Jamaica Jamaica! to Open on Sunday February 2, 2020

Jamaica Jamaica - Sassafrass

– How our music conquered the world.

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The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) and the Jamaica Music Museum in association with La Philharmonie de Paris are pleased to present the exhibition Jamaica, Jamaica!, which opens on February 2, 2020 and closes on June 28, 2020. Doors open at 11:00am and formalities begin at 3:00pm. We will also feature the DJ Iset Sankofa.

Initially launched at Philharmonie de Paris in 2017 and titled after the eponymous 1985 hit song by Brigadier “The General” Jerry, Jamaica, Jamaica! examines how the tiny Caribbean island of Jamaica has become an extraordinary force in the world heritage and history of music.

Jamaica, Jamaica! brings together rare memorabilia, photographs, visual art, audio recordings and footage unearthed from Jamaica’s best museums and most elusive collectors and studios, while collaborating with legendary local visual artists to convey the essence of a true Jamaican music experience.

Teeming with creativity and innovation, Jamaica has produced some of the major musical currents in today’s popular music landscape; yet, its rich history and diversity is often overshadowed by its most famous icon, reggae superstar Bob Marley. This exhibition aims at showcasing a broader vision that has allowed the world to know the island’s music, by digging deep into its past and present in search for the roots of “rebel music”, beyond the cliché and the postcard.

The most ambitious exhibition ever staged on the topic, Jamaica, Jamaica! celebrates the musical innovations born on the island in its specific historic and social contexts, unveiling the story behind the musical genres of kumina, revival, mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall – as well as the impact of the local sound system culture, street culture, and visual arts on today’s global pop culture.

“What about the half/that’s never been told?”, Jamaican singer Dennis Brown wondered. Complete with interactive installations, events and panels throughout its tenure, Jamaica, Jamaica! seeks to address and pay homage to the untold half, thus explaining how and why, born from a tiny island scarred by slavery and colonialism, Jamaica’s music has been able to conquer the world.

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Papa Screw – Black Scorpio Headquarters, 1985 Image: Beth Lesser

EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Interactive installations, an “operate it yourself” sound system and touch-screen riddim navigator.
  • Dedicated web radio and app, “Radio Jamaica”.
  • A true multimedium exhibition, Jamaica, Jamaica! mixes classic fine arts (Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Everald Brown, Sydney McLaren), contemporary art (Ebony Patterson, Matthew McCarthy, Leasho Johnson.), mural art (“Bones” Williams, Errol “Gideon” Reid, Ras Lava), photographs (Peter Dean Rickards, Beth Lesser, Arthur Gorson, Kookie Kinkhead, Peter Simon), audio, video and musical artifacts – including equipment from Studio One, King Jammy’s and Randy’s studios, Peters Tosh’s M16 guitar, Count Ossie’s percussions, drum kits from the Skatalites and Sly and Robbie, and Hedley Jones’ guitar.

PROGRAMMES

  • There will be a full range of programming, including film screenings, and artist and curator talks.
  • The regular National Gallery Last Sunday programme on the last Sunday of every month continues. Each one will explore a different aspect of the exhibition.
  • Special Language Group Tours. Free German, French, Japanese and Jamaican Language tours available by appointment.
  • Children’s Musical Programming on Saturdays.

SECTIONS

 

The exhibition is articulated in six sections, each section focusing on a key moment or a specific aspect of Jamaican music.

All photos from an original exhibition presented at the Musée de la Musique – La Philharmonie de Paris. 

Skalatlites Drum Kit

Exhibition view featuring the Skatalites Drum set

INTRODUCTION: Seeing Sounds, Hearing Images

A prelude and a synthesis, this introductory section juxtaposes two elements that have made Jamaican music unique: its secular aspect and its ritual aspect – by showcasing together iconic items of sound system culture (equipment, photographs, video), and spiritual musical instruments. This section will also feature a monumental series of portraits of Jamaican iconic music makers from all eras and musical styles – courtesy of downtown legends, mural artists Ras Lava, “Bones” Williams and Errol “Gideon” Reid.

1— Freedom Sounds

The musical heritages born from slavery are showcased in this historical room: from revival, kumina, and the maroons, all the way to Count Ossie’s drummers and nyabinghi music. This section incidentally examines how these ritual genres mixed up with local folk and (seemingly) more innocuous mento drew the blueprint of Jamaica’s own “rebel music.”

2— Voices of Independance

Ska-talites AlbumWhen founding members of The Skatalites met at Alpha Boys School, a revolution happened: for the first time, the music “from the streets” entered the musical spectrum. From a Jamaican blend of jazz to ska and its next embodiment, rock steady, these new sounds preceded reggae throughout the 1960s, echoing the island’s physical independence from England.

3— Studios: The Echo Chamber

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Studio One Reproduction in Paris

As ska entered the picture, Jamaica’s music industry became a crucial part of daily life, intertwining music and social issues – as a subsection about cult movie “The Harder They Come” reminisces. This section is a voyage through Jamaica’s top studios over the years: from Studio One to the synthetic sounds of Sly and Robbie, via Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Black Ark, Randy’s, and King Jammys.

4— Get up, Stand up

At the beginning of the 1970s, Rasta philosophy seeped through the whole music fraternity, gathering more and more steam beyond the strict nyabinghi drummer circles. From then on, why would the freshly born reggae, also known as “roots music”, call on to Jamaican Pan African visionary Marcus Garvey and Ethiopian Emperor Hailé Sélassié? This section details who these two often-quoted figures are, and their everlasting presence in Jamaica’s popular music.

5 — Trench Town to the World

Bob Marley in His Tuff Gong studio

Bob Marley in his home-studio Tuff Gong, 1978. Image: Adrian Booth

A social experiment of communal living eventually scarred by political violence, Trenchtown’s tenement yards contributed to the musical destiny of Jamaica. Honouring Trenchtown’s greatest, this section explains how Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer brought reggae to the world from their humble beginnings in this West Kingston neighbourhood.

6 — Dancehall Stylee

DANCEHALL_Bounty Killer by Peter Dean Rickards

Peter Dean Rickards – Bounty Killer

Following Bob Marley’s passing in 1981, Jamaica once again invented a new musical paradigm – a new genre called dancehall. Dancehall felt as if the country wanted to talk to itself again – by celebrating the sound system culture it created and had perfected over decades, and its bubbling visual, linguistic and graphic creativity. From the early days of dancehall culture to its most contemporary icons and movements, this last section showcases the visionary pioneer spirit born in Jamaica that global pop music has been tapping into – without always crediting its origins.

About the Curators

Sebastien Carayol, Independent Curator. Born and raised in France, Sebastien Carayol initially discovered Jamaican music through the power of Jamaican-English sound systems in London and developed his passion from this initial experience. His quest led him to interview key characters in reggae’s history for music magazines such as Wax Poetics, Natty Dread, Riddim, Vibrations. He directed the acclaimed 10-episode documentary series Sound System for the ARTE channel (France/Germany) in 2017. As a curator, he has developed exhibitions on the topic in Paris, France (Jamaica, Jamaica!, Philharmonie de Paris, 2017; Say Watt, le Culte du Sound System, La Gaîté Lyrique, 2013) and Los Angeles (Hometown Hifi, Sonos Studios, 2015).

Herbie Miller, Jamaica Music Museum.  Herbie Miller is a cultural historian specializing in slave culture, Black identity and ethnomusicology. He is the Director/Curator of the Jamaica Music Museum where he introduced the popular Grounation series. Miller managed reggae stars The Skatalites, Toots & the Maytals, Third World and Peter Tosh. In a career that spans over 40-years, he has produced exhibitions, concerts and recordings of ska, reggae and jazz, locally and internationally. He also composed and produced the critically acclaimed “Aluta Continua” done by reggae artist Big Youth. Two of his songs, “Feel It” and “Survival Plan” were used in major Hollywood movies Something Wild and The Manchurian Candidate.  A prolific writer, Herbie Miller has had his essays published in journals, magazines and as book chapters.

O’Neil Lawrence, National Gallery of Jamaica. O’Neil Lawrence is the Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Jamaica, and also has curatorial oversight for their western branch National Gallery West. He was the lead curator on the exhibitions Seven Women Artists (2015), Masculinities (2015), I Shall Return Again (2018) and Beyond Fashion (2018). Lawrence is an artist whose photography and video work has been included in several international exhibitions. His research interests include race, gender and sexuality in Caribbean and African Diasporal art and visual culture; memory, identity and hidden archives; photography as a medium and a social vehicle; Caribbean and general art history and museums and other public cultural institutions. He has contributed essays to publications on Caribbean art most recently Histórias Afro-Atlânticas Vol 2 Antologia (MASP 2018). In 2018 he served on the Board of the Davidoff Art Initiative and he is currently on the Advisory Council of the Caribbean Art Initiative.

About the National Gallery of Jamaica

The National Gallery of Jamaica, established in 1974, is the oldest and largest public art gallery in the Anglophone Caribbean. It has a comprehensive collection of early, modern and contemporary art from Jamaica along with smaller Caribbean and international holdings. A significant part of its collections is on permanent view. The NGJ has an active exhibition programme, which includes retrospectives of work by major Jamaican artists, thematic exhibitions, guest-curated exhibitions, touring exhibitions that originate outside of the island, and, its two recurrent national exhibitions, the Kingston Biennial and the NGJ Summer Exhibition. The NGJ offers a range of educational services, including guided tours, lectures and panel discussions, and children’s art programmes and also operates a gift shop and coffee shop.

The National Gallery of Jamaica is a Division of the Institute of Jamaica, an Agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

Last Sundays August 25, 2019 to feature Ziah Push

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s programming for Last Sundays on August 25, 2019 will feature the recently opened National Gallery of Jamaica Summer Exhibition 2019 as well as a performance by the musical artiste Ziah Push.

The NGJ Summer Exhibition is one comprised of both juried and invited artists from Jamaica and the diaspora to provide an inclusive and diverse showing of Jamaican art. The exhibition is varied in the concepts and themes explored by the artists as well as the mediums in which they take form. It is also host to a number of emerging artists that we can look forward to seeing more work from in the future.

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Growing up in Manchester, Jamaica, Ziah had a dream in his head and a passion in his heart, and that was to be a great artiste. Music has always been his biggest curiosity. Playing multiple instruments (guitar, bass, violin and piano) allowed him to perfect his craft as a producer, working closely with legendary producer “Don Corleonie” with credits from names such as Shaggy, Nicki Minaj, Sean Paul, Protoje and Chronixx.

Ziah’s Journey has led him to take the forefront as a recording artiste because he “has something to say”. His most recent Single is entitled “Black Magic Woman” produced  by his “Face The Music” Label and released under Protoje’s “Indigg Collective” Label.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The performance will begin at 1:30 pm. As per usual on Last Sundays, admission is free, but contributions to our Donations Box, located in the lobby, are appreciated. These donations help to fund our in house exhibitions and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.

Exhibition Opening: National Gallery of Jamaica Summer Exhibition 2019

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for July 28, 2019 will feature the opening of the inaugural National Gallery of Jamaica Summer Exhibition 2019 and features a musical performance by Jaz Elise. The keynote speaker will be The Honourable Olivia Grange MP, CD, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. 

This exhibition was developed in the tradition of previous open-submission art exhibitions staged by the National Gallery since 1974. Notable predecessors include the Annual National, the National Biennial and the Jamaica Biennial exhibitions. Similar to those exhibitions, the NGJ Summer Show is comprised of an invited and a juried section and the summer show seeks to unearth new artistic talent, as well as provide an enriching perspective on the already diverse and exciting cohort of Jamaican visual artists, both locally and abroad. A total of one hundred and ninety-two (192) artworks, produced by one hundred and fifteen (115) artists were reviewed by three judges: art historians Petrina Dacres and Erica Moiah James, as well as exhibition designer Sara Shabaka.  The resulting exhibition show will feature ninety-nine (97) artworks, by sixty-eight (68) Jamaican artists, based locally and overseas.

Artworks in the exhibition take on many forms: sculpture, fibre and textile arts, painting, photography, mixed media works, as well as large-scale installations. As is expected with any open submission-based art show, the themes explored by our artists are diverse. Some of the more timeless ones include issues surrounding gender, ancestry, the environment, personas and personalities.

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Raised and molded in the strongly cultured City of Kingston Jamaica, Jaz Elise is an artiste who is on a mission to make great songs and uplift and spread positivity. Born Jasmine Taylor, she began singing in the children’s choir at age 5 and continued to pursue it throughout her life. Jaz Elise also has extensive experience in dancing and acting, performing in the Quilt Performing Arts Company and co-starring in films such as Capture Land (Directed by Nabil Elderkin) and Proscenium. Her style is a mixture of soulful melodies and DJ style and her aim is to tell real stories, give real perspectives and to entertain through her music.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The formalities will begin at 1:30 pm and the performance will follow afterwards. As per usual on Last Sundays, admission is free, but contributions to our Donations Box, located in the lobby, are appreciated. These donations help to fund our in house exhibitions and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will be open for business.

Beyond Fashion: Extended!

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce that our most recent exhibition Beyond Fashion has been extended until February 24th, 2019. This decision was a result of the exceptional reception we received from you, our patrons.

Beyond Fashion takes a deeper look at the relationship between fashion and art and how they may be integrated to produce works that speak to a variety of concepts. In this exhibition there are a myriad of art forms, such as photography, quilting, installation and jewellery to name a few.

Thank you greatly for the support we have received and, if you have not seen Beyond Fashion as yet, we highly encourage you to do so.

 

Beyond Fashion: Artist Talk Dec 15, 2018

Beyond Fashion Artist Talk

Photograph: Michelle Jorsling

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present the first of two Artist Talks for its current exhibition Beyond Fashion on Saturday, December 15 starting at 1:00 pm. Beyond Fashion seeks to explore the capacity for fashion themed or influenced art making to reflect and interrogate complex personal and societal histories. The exhibition also questions the supposed distinctions between art and craft. These concepts will be explored in the context of this exhibition during this session.

The discussion will be moderated by the exhibition’s lead curator O’Neil Lawrence and the panelist will include exhibiting artists Phillip Thomas, Yasmin Spiro as well as researcher, indigo dyer and artist Lucille Junkere. The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Persons in attendance will also have an opportunity to view the Beyond Fashion exhibition which will close on January 15, 2019.

“Beyond Fashion” Opening this Last Sundays ft. Quilt

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Photo Credit: Michelle Jorsling

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be opening its newest exhibition Beyond Fashion for the September Last Sundays featuring guest speaker SiiM (Michelle Simone Clarke) and a theatrical performance by Quilt.

Beyond Fashion examines the works of artists who have incorporated elements of fashion and it’s creation into their practice. It explores the capacity for fashion themed art making to delve into topics of the personal and the political, as well as providing a vehicle for experimentation and expression that goes beyond everyday fashion. Beyond Fashion includes the works of artists that have experience in fashion design, fashion photography and jewellery making.

The exhibition includes the works of Marvin Bartley, Kereina Chang-Fatt, The Girl and The Magpie, Jessica Ogden, Ebony G. Patterson, Alfredo Piola, Ayana Rivière, Peter Dean Rickards, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Phillip Thomas, Yasmin Spiro, Seymour Lewis and Cosmo Whyte.

Our Guest Speaker SiiM (Michelle Simone Clarke) is an architecture graduate from the University of Toronto who fell in love with fashion after her travels to East and Southeast Asia and Australia. After returning to Jamaica her line became known locally and regionally through her Butterflies & Hummingbirds collection, inspired by the lightness, colour and freedom of the tropical animals. SiiM currently consults as a Creative Director and her team has worked on events such as FASHIONBLOCK, International Reggae Day, Jamaica Carnival, America’s Next Top Model, The Wray and Nephew Contender and many others for over a decade.

QUILT

Quilt performing at the National Gallery of Jamaica

No strangers to the National Gallery of Jamaica, the Quilt Performing Arts Company was born out of a need for a fresh, new, innovative way of creating performance art. Using Caribbean rhythms, merging poetry, music and dance, the Quilt performers have developed their own unique performance style and an evolving theatre technique. Artistic director Rayon Mclean and his team continue break boundaries and redefine performance spaces. The group’s main focus is to provide pieces with a strong social message that forces audiences to think and reflect, feel, laugh, and learn.

Doors will open to the public from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The formalities by will begin at 1:30 p.m. As is customary on Last Sundays, admission is free, but contributions to the Donations Box located in the Coffee Shop are appreciated. These donations help to fund exhibitions like Beyond Fashion and our Last Sundays programming. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will also be open for business.