Love Is Not Enough was a dance performance, billed as an “environmental performance”, which was held at the main opening reception of the Jamaica Biennial 2014 on December 14, 2014. The performance involved wearable sculptures from The Girl and the Magpie‘s Fragile Jamaica collection and was presented in collaboration with dance company eNKompan.E (Neila Ebanks and Kim‐Lee Campbell, Paul Newman, Tristan Rodney, performers), Hans De Man (soundtrack) and The Girl and the Magpie (concept).
“Nature takes years to grow trees, build fertile soil, develop reefs, etc … humans only need minutes to destroy all of this. And there is no ‘Undo’ button when it comes to the environment.” The Girl and the Magpie proposed the idea of a performance that would use necklaces from the Fragile Jamaica collection, to Hans De Man and eNKompan.E. Together they developed their personal interpretations, through music for Hans and through dance for Neila Ebanks. The resulting performance is a collective translation of the idea of the necessity of the protection of nature’s beauty and fragility. The performance invites the audience to reflect on the fragility of Jamaica’s ecological balance and possible actions for its preservation.
At the performance on December 14, four performers thus wore fragile sculptures made from natural materials native to Jamaica. The performers moved through the gallery space and the crowd, on a soundtrack which slowly increases in intensity. The soundtrack was made from sounds issued from nature, in combination with an organic electronic soundscape. Slowly the performers started breaking and tearing apart the sculptures they were wearing, ending up with their total destruction. At the end, the performers dissappeared and left the shattered pieces behind on the ground.
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
The artist behind The Girl and the Magpie was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa). She obtained a Masters Degree in Archeology and History of Art in Belgium (1996). She began to make jewellery in Burkina Faso (2005) where she mastered the lost-wax casting technique, an ancestral method for casting bronze. While traveling regularly between Europe and Africa, she continued her goldsmith and contemporary jewellery training at the Technical School for Arts and Crafts in Brussels, Belgium (2005-2011). She has been living and working in Jamaica for the last two years. She has exhibited in Belgium, Burkina Faso and in Jamaica, where she has collaborated with Jackie Cohen to produce accessories for her Mutamba clothing line for 2012 Caribbean Fashion Week. Fragile Jamaica is a (fragile) collection inviting reflections on the fragility of Jamaica’s ecological balance. Love for Jamaica’s beauty is not enough, on all levels more actions are needed to encourage its preservation: from daily personal actions, over community projects, to political decisions. Continue reading