Global Conversations Series: Radical Art Practice in the 21st Century

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present the first episode in our Global Conversations Series: Radical Art Practice in the 21st Century on April 16, 2021 at 12 noon Jamaican time. The panellists will be the talented artists Olu Oguibe, Ibrahima Mahama and Deborah Anzinger and the moderator is curator and educator Petrina Dacres. The discussion will be presented live on our YouTube channel, inclusive of a 30 minute segment for audience participation. A recap of the topic and participant bios follow:

Radical Art Practice in the 21st century

What constitutes radical art practice in the 21st century especially in the wake of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and a global pandemic? What new forms and formations of art-making can we envisage today? BLM as a social movement originated in the USA but resonates globally, with ‘Black’ serving as a signifier of multiple alterities. A discussion between boundary-pushing, award-winning artist Olu Oguibe, Ghanaian wunderkind Ibrahim Mahama and the artist and artworld builder, Deborah Anzinger.

Olu Oguibe

Olu Oguibe is a multi-media artist and writer whose work often straddles minimalist formalism and social engagement. His work has been widely exhibited in museum and gallery shows, as well as biennials and triennials. He has also created several public works in many countries. In 2017 his “Strangers and Refugees Monument”, a public sculpture in Kassel, Germany, received the Arnold Bode Preis for documenta14. Oguibe was Professor of Painting at University of Connecticut until 2017 when he resigned to devote his full time to art making.

Ibrahim Mahama

Ibrahim Mahama is a Ghanian artist. He often works with found objects, transforming them in his practice and giving them new meaning. Mahama is best known for his practice of draping buildings in old jute sacks, which he stitches together with a team of collaborators to create patchwork quilts. Of the practice, Mahama says, “I used jute sacks because for me the history of crisis and failure is absorbed into the material. Their history speaks of how global transactions and capitalist structures work. And because their humbleness contrasts with the monumentality of the buildings they cover.” He grew up in a polygamous family, and once noted that his collaborative nature could be a result of this unique environment.

Born in Tamale, Ghana in 1987, Mahama received his MFA in Painting and Sculpture from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, Ghana in 2013. He lives and works in Tamale. Mahama was the youngest artist featured in the first Ghana Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, where he created a bunker-like space made out of the mesh used to smoke fish and filled it with references to Ghana’s history. Mahama has had multiple solo installations in Accra and Kumasi, as well as solo exhibitions in Dublin, Michigan, and at White Cube in London.

Deborah Anzinger

Deborah Anzinger is an artist and founder of New Local Space (NLS), Kingston, Jamaica. Anzinger works in painting, sculpture, video and sound to interrogate and reconfigure aesthetic syntax that relate us to land and gendered and raced bodies. Anzinger’s work was  the subject of a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia) and has been exhibited at Pérez Art Museum Miami; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, Brooklyn; National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; and National Gallery of Jamaica. Her work has been published in Small Axe Journal (Duke University Press), Caribbean Quarterly (Taylor & Francis), Bomb Magazine, Art Papers, The New Yorker and Artforum. Anzinger was recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and a fellowship to Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and is a 2020 Soros Arts Fellow.

Petrina Dacres

Petrina Dacres is a Curator and the Head of Art History at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Her teaching and research centers on African Diaspora Art, Caribbean Art, Public Sculpture and Memorials and Memory Studies. Her publications on public sculpture include,“Keeping Alive Before the People’s Eyes This Great Event’: Kingston’s Queen Victoria Monument,” “‘But Bogle a Bold Man’: Vision, History, and Power for a New Jamaica,” and “Monuments and Meaning.”

For more educational and entertainment content subscribe and follow us on:

-YouTube NationalGalleryofJamaica
-Instagram @nationalgalleryofjamaica
-Twitter @natgalleryja
-Facebook at NationalGalleryofJamaica

Panel Discussion on “We Have Met Before” on September 23 @1:30 PM

We Have Met Before opens at the National Gallery of Jamaica on September 22 and is staged in partnership with the British Council. The exhibition features Graham Fagen (Scotland), Joscelyn Gardner (Barbados/Canada), Ingrid Pollard (Guyana/UK), and Leasho Johnson (Jamaica) and revisits the challenging but important subject of trans-Atlantic slavery and its afterlives in the contemporary world, interpreted by four artists with distinctive perspectives.

As part of the accompanying programmes for We Have Met Before, the National Gallery of the Jamaica and the British Council will present a panel discussion on the issues raised by the exhibition on Saturday, September 23, starting at 1:30 pm. The panel will consist of three of the artists in the exhibition, Graham Fagen, Joscelyn Gardner and Ingrid Pollard, while Deborah Anzinger will speak about Leasho Johnson’s work. The panel will be moderated by Shani Roper, acting Director/Curator of Liberty Hall, the Legacy of Marcus Garvey.

The panel discussion, which will take place at the National Gallery of Jamaica, is free and open to the public and those in attendance will also have the opportunity to view the exhibition, which continues until November 4, 2017.

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

 

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Guide to the Devon House Interventions

We present additional information on the Jamaica Biennial 2017 exhibition at Devon House. This document will also be available as a free handout at Devon House. Opening hours there are Mo-Fri 9:30 to 4:30 and on the last Sundays of the month from 11 to 4. Admission rates apply. All Jamaica Biennial exhibitions continue until May 28.

Introduction

As was first done in 2014, the Jamaica Biennial 2017 is shown at more than one location. In addition to the National Gallery itself, where the main exhibition is held, parts of the exhibition are shown at Devon House, which was the National Gallery’s original home in 1974, and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay.

For Devon House, we selected five interventions by artists whose work resonates with the history and context of Devon House, particularly its dual connection to Jamaica’s plantation heritage and to social change, as the great house was built in 1881 by Jamaica’s first black millionaire. The selected work is by Andrea Chung, Laura Facey, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Sharon Norwood, Deborah Anzinger and Leasho Johnson. All are displayed in the Devon House interior. Some of these interventions are immediately and provocatively visible, while the others are more subtle and may at first be mistaken as being part of the original furnishings. This makes the process of discovery and engagement involved in viewing the Jamaica Biennial 2016 exhibition at Devon House all the more exciting.

Leasho Johnson, In-a-the-Middle

Location: The Palm Hall

In-a-the-Middle is a mixed-media sculptural floor piece that parodies a dancehall party, or more specifically, a “daggering session.” It is comprised of locally made metal ‘dutch’ pots, cast from scrap metal, fluorescent red paint with papier mâchè and ceramic castings of speakers and legs. The title is a derivative of a dancehall song, Inna The Middle performed by ZJ Liquid, which in the local context is referred to as a “gyal song” – that is, a song that speaks mainly to female party-goers. The “dutch” pot in Jamaican culture is a multi-purpose item and is commonly found in most Jamaican homes.

In-a-the-Middle explores female objectification and the male gaze within dancehall culture, compared with a perspective of the woman as nourishment giver, bread winner and home maker, symbolized in part by the use of the “dutch pot.” He states, “I was trying to describe a kind of negative space that is misogynistic [and] that surrounds a female described space… women becoming the weak default of a culture that puts its men on the podium of social ideals”.

(Photo: Randy Richards)

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, The Table (Parallel Realities Dwelling in the Heartland of My People)

Location: The Dining Room

Awarded the Aaron Matalon Award

The Table (Parallel Realities Dwelling in the Heartland of My People) presents an account of the social, historical and cultural realities of slavery, using various materials and objects. It is set up with a sharp juxtaposition between the indigenous world of Nature, Veve and Taino, against that of Empire with all its assumptions of beauty and civilized behaviour. The Tea Table is laid with fineries like crystal, silverware and China. It lays bare notions of civility in harmony with plunder, murder, rape and genocide, as in the case of the Parsley Massacre in the Dominican Republic in 1937 with its dismembered figures and pools of blood. Historically, the establishment of this Euro-centric status quo has been challenged. This is symbolized in the use of the ‘abeng’, a symbol of subversion by the Maroons as a counter narrative force which disrupts and displaces the genteel setting, celebrating the human capacity for resilience and survival.”

Continue reading

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 5: The Biennial @ Devon House

anzinger-deborah-apiercing-cold-where-we-meet

Deborah Anzinger – A Piercing Void Where We Meet (2017, digital study)

The 2014 edition of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Jamaica Biennial was shown at multiple venues—a first for this exhibition in Jamaica—and this included Devon House, the original home of the National Gallery and one of Kingston’s main heritage sites. Devon House was included as part of the National Gallery’s fortieth anniversary celebrations, as a home-coming of sorts, but also in response to the Devon House Management’s invitation to organize regular joint exhibitions.

bumpy-top-desk-and-mirror

Laura Facey – Bumpy Top Desk and Mirror (2016)

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 at Devon House featured work by Laura Facey, Ebony G. Patterson (who won the Biennial’s Aaron Matalon Award that year), Greg Bailey, Cosmo Whyte, James Cooper, and Oneika Russell, and was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed parts of the exhibition. The approach taken was for the works selected to be installed the Devon House mansion interior, alongside or in replacement the regular furniture and art works, and, in the case of Laura Facey, also in the formal gardens in front of the house. The result was a rich dialogue between the history and context of the house—which was built and owned by Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel, in 1881—and the issues raised in the art works, such as the historical and contemporary dynamics of race and class, the politics of visibility and invisibility in the face of social violence, and our relationship to the natural environment.

norwood-sharon-root-of-the-matter-xi

Sharon Norwood – Root of the Matter XI (2016)

Continue reading

New Roots: Deborah Anzinger

Deborah Anzinger - detail of installation

Deborah Anzinger – detail of installation

This is the first in a series of posts on the artists in our upcoming New Roots exhibition, which opens on July 28.

Biography

Deborah Anzinger has exhibited her work at the District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC), Arlington Art Center (AAC), George Mason University, Civilian Art Projects, Hillyer Art Space, Delicious Spectacle, Porch Projects, Corcoran Gallery of Art with Transformer Gallery, and National Gallery of Jamaica. She recently co-curated with Chajana DenHarder Intimate Encounters, a solo exhibition of work by Marlon James at New Local Space (NLS), Kingston; and Loose Ends, an exhibition of work by Chandi Kelley, Chajana DenHarder, Matt Smith, Joseph Hale and Dafna Steinberg at DCAC.  She has written for ARC Magazine and Caribbean Beat; and sat on panels for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, DCAC and AAC. She is founding director of the non-profit visual art initiative NLS that creates a more connected global network where unconventional art, ideas and artists are accessed openly through artist residencies, exhibitions and conversation series. Deborah received her PhD in Immunology and Microbiology in 2005 from Rush Medical Center, Chicago.

Continue reading