The National Gallery of Jamaica is staging another educational event associated with its New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists exhibition, namely a tour of the exhibition with five of the participating artists, namely Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Nile Saulter and Ikem Smith, who will each talk about their work. This event is scheduled for Thursday, October 31, starting at 2:30 pm.
New Roots features work in a variety of new and conventional media by 10 artists under 40 years old, Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Gisele Gardner, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Astro Saulter, Nile Saulter, Ikem Smith, and The Girl and the Magpie. The exhibition samples some of the most dynamic and innovative directions in the Jamaican art world, by artists who are questioning conventional understandings of art and the artist while presenting a socially engaged perspective on contemporary Jamaican society.
Thursday’s artists’ tour of New Roots is free and open to the public. The New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists is closing on November 2, so this event also represents one of the last opportunities to view the exhibition. For more information, see: https://nationalgalleryofjamaica.wordpress.com/tag/new-roots/
The NGJ recently staged an art writing workshop for its curatorial staff, which was presented by Nicole Smythe-Johnson. Here is the first of a series of short reviews that were produced during this workshop, written by Patreece McIntosh – a response to Ikem Smith’s 2063 music animation, which is currently on view in New Roots. Patreece is a Visual Communications graduate of the Edna Manley College and works as the NGJ’s Graphic Designer.
It depicts a blood red sky, absent buildings and not a single tree in sight. Against this post-apocalyptic background a dark figure is running, we don’t yet know why. It is a minute and fifty seconds of panic and confusion, the music becomes more intense and then abruptly there is an impact. He crashes to the ground with force, a firearm flashes across the screen and we now have our answer when we least expect it.
The death of the figure in Ikem Smith’s animated music video entitled 2063, and created fifty years earlier in 2013, is still quite mysterious though it is clearly implied what has happened to him. There are so many questions that can be asked; one can ask who he was, what he was doing before, where he was going to and who he was running from. The fact that the figure is unidentified makes it easy to imagine that it could be any of us and so these questions could be answered with a little imagination.
Matthew McCarty – I Took the Liberty of Designing One (2013)
Instead of asking what are people’s roots, we ought to think about what are their routes, the different points by which they have come to be now they are, in a sense, the sum of those differences. That, I think, is a different way of speaking than talking about multiple personalities or multiple identities as if they don’t have any relation to one another or that they are purely intentional. These routes hold us in places, but what they don’t do is hold us in the same place. We need to try to make sense of the connections with where we think we were then as compared to where we are now. That is what biography or the unfolding sense of the self or the stories we tell ourselves or the autobiographies we write are meant to do, to convince ourselves that these are not a series of leaps in the dark that we took, but they did have some logic, though it’s not the logic of time or cause or sequence. But there is a logic of connected meaning.
The New Roots exhibition features 10 emerging artists: Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Gisele Gardner, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Astro Saulter, Nile Saulter, Ikem Smith and The Girl and the Magpie. These artists were selected by our curatorial team, which was headed by Nicole Smythe-Johnson, O’Neil Lawrence and myself, from our initial shortlist of over 30 artists under 40 years old who were either born in Jamaica or of Jamaican parentage or who are active here. We specifically looked for artists who had started exhibiting only recently, at least in Jamaica, and who had not previously been represented in National Gallery of Jamaica exhibitions of a similar nature, such as our Young Talent series. Final selections were made based on obvious practical considerations, such as the availability of work and feasibility of project proposals, but most of all we looked for work that suggested viable new directions in local contemporary art practice. And we found a lot that interested us: a strong focus on photographic reportage; provocative autobiographic reflections and social interventions; new interrogations of gender and the body; an at times unsparing realism but also a capacity for imaginative visual poetry; experimentation with video projection, animation and interactivity; and a growing disregard for conventional notions about the “art object” and the traditional, segregated artistic disciplines.
The Girl and the Magpie – Sponge (necklace, collection Fragile Jamaica) (2013) – work in progress
Ikem Smith is a multimedia artist born in Kingston, Jamaica. He is a recent graduate of the Edna Manley College of The Visual and Performing Arts where he earned his BFA in Visual Communication. He has directed a number of music videos and continues to dabble in music production and animation.
Tools of trade, image and spoken word. Sorting through the stream of information presented to me by the news, the church, my parents and trying respond in ways that I feel right or necessary. This work is my voice and one of my first responses to living life in this young Jamaica at the beginning of the twenty first century. Continue reading