Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Juried Artists: Deborah Anzinger

This is the first of what will be our final series of posts on the Jamaica Biennial 2017, on the juried artists in the exhibition. The juried section of the 2017 Biennial was selected by two international judges, Amanda Coulson (Bahamas) and Christopher Cozier (Trinidad and Tobago), and two local judges and members of the NGJ Board, Susanne Fredricks and Omari Ra. Deborah Anzinger had submitted a site-specific installation proposal for the Devon House ballroom, which was selected.

Deborah Anzinger was born in St Andrew, Jamaica. She attended the Rush University Medical Center, where she obtained a PhD in Immunology and Microbiology, and she is self-taught as a painter and multi-media artist. Her recent exhibitions include the Jamaica Biennial 2014 at the National Gallery of Jamaica, and Double Dutch: Heino Schmid + Deborah Anzinger (2016) at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Anzinger is the Executive Director of New Local Space Ltd. (NLS), a non-profit visual art initiative in Kingston. She is a regular participant in international art events, such as Tilting Axis in 2015 and 2016, in Barbados and Miami respectively, and recently completed a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2016). Her current body of work tests “the limits of understanding individual existence and experience as hybrid, indeterminate and magical, told from an unknowable inner world.” She is based in St Andrew, Jamaica.

Website: www.deborahanzinger.com



Natural Histories: Deborah M. Carroll Anzinger

A closer look at Deborah Anzinger’s work in the Natural Histories Exhibition:

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Instability is a major theme in much of Deborah Anzinger’s recent work. In both Gone and Lizard Anzinger uses images of nature as a means to reference anxieties around the instability of life- which she experiences as an“urgent sense of mortality”. This is paralleled with an anxiety around representation, which is always dual in so far as it is both the thing it represents and not. The word “tree” is a tree- in so far as it signifies one- and at the same time is not a tree in so far as it is only a four-letter word.

In Gone the thick, almost sculptural rendering of the words makes the text at once tactile and symbolic, their duality as signs is made visible through their excessive physicality. Similarly, the photograph floating in the corner is from a visit to her family’s rural farmland in Maroon Town, Jamaica; the figures in the image are Anzinger’s sister and two friends coming out of a cave. The image is completely un-moored, out of context, and like the words, made to bear both what it represents (the memory of “back” then/there) and its unstable status as image, capable of being made to mean many things and/or nothing. Taken together, the work stages an interrogation of representation at the level of form, and an interrogation of the concept of“belonging”at the level of content.

In Lizard (the video piece to be found in the next room), the ethereality of nature and looming mortality are again the focus. As in Gone, this is paralleled with an anxiety around the unstable sign. The video seems to perform the instability of the sign“lizard”. A feared creature for many Jamaicans including Anzinger, the lizard is here transformed by natural processes into a sad carcass of little interest to anyone, and further transmutated into art object by abrupt infusions of a distinctly synthetic yellow. In the artist’s own words, the work is“an oscillation between tactile physical experience and representative language”.