The National Gallery of Jamaica will be closed on Saturdays for the month of June. We thank you for your understanding as we continue our setup of the Kingston Biennial 2022: Pressure.
The Board and Management of the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) are pleased to announce the June 26, 2022 opening of Kingston Biennial: Pressure. The biennial – the gallery’s flagship art event – is curated this year by David Scott, Nicole Smythe-Johnson, Wayne Modest and O’Neil Lawrence.
Lawrence the NGJ’s Chief Curator, outlined that this type of contemporary art exhibition is meant to produce change. “While the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have adjusted timelines and artistic focus, the theme seemed particularly prescient. The world has been under pressure. Alongside disruptions and traumas, the recalibrations and the pivoting, there has also been opportunity for a new era of collective self-reflexivity and a desire to focus on what really matters.”
The Kingston Biennial, which will run until December 31, 2022, is anticipated to be ambitious, both in its scale and the volume of works that will be featured at the National Gallery’s downtown location.
“It is this type of pressure that is both generating and dissenting,” according to the exhibition’s lead curator, David Scott. “It is an inspiring human resource, and historically it has been deeply fertile ground for some of the most brilliant works of Jamaican cultural achievement.” Twenty-Four (24) Jamaican born and descended artists were invited to focus on the thematic notion of “pressure”. In response, works were created ‘at home’ by: Greg Bailey, Camille Chedda, Katrina Coombs, Ricardo Edwards, Laura Facey, CD, Monique Gilpin, Christopher Irons, Marlon James, Phillip Thomas, Matthew McCarthy, Omari Ra, Oneika Russell. And they will arrive from Australia: Robin Clare; Trinidad: Roberta Stoddart, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan the United Kingdom: Kaleb D’Aguilar, Hurvin Anderson and the United States: Simon Benjamin, Alicia Brown, Nadine Hall, Satch Hoyt, Leasho Johnson, Arthur Simms, Nari Ward.
The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) wishes to announce a new opening date for the Kingston Biennial: Pressure curated by David Scott, Nicole Smythe-Johnson, Wayne Modest and O’Neil Lawrence. The Kingston Biennial will now open on June 26th 2022 and close on December 31st 2022.
As it has with art institutions around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the NGJ’s exhibition programming. It has made it impossible to meet previously set timelines – both for the NGJ as well as several of the participating artists in the Kingston Biennial. While the preparations for the exhibition are ongoing, the recently confirmed presence of the Delta and Mu variants of the COVID-19 virus in Jamaica also factored into the decision to change the opening date from the original December 12, 2021.
Jonathan Greenland, Senior Director of the NGJ, in a statement. “With the evolving uncertainties of the pandemic, the decision was made to change dates for the exhibition in order to prioritize the safety of our staff, the artistic community and our public. The Kingston Biennial: Pressure is however our newest flagship exhibition; we remain committed to this exhibition for its potential to be a catalyst for the further exposure and development of Jamaican art both here and in the Jamaican diaspora.”
David Scott, the exhibition’s lead curator on the exhibition’s theme “[W]hat is instructive about the Jamaican experience and the idiom of pressure is that it has always had a generative and dissenting quality about it. Pressure is a source of critical and creative counter-powers and creative oppositional activity. It is an inspiring human resource, and historically it has been deeply fertile ground for some of the most brilliant works of Jamaican cultural achievement.”
Leading up to the opening of the Kingston Biennial: Pressure there will be several interactive online seminars including: The Cultural History of Art Institutions in Jamaica and the Sonic and Visual Lives of Pressure among others.
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The inaugural Kingston Biennial has been postponed until December 2021.
The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) has postponed its new flagship exhibition the Kingston Biennial until December 5, 2021. The decision to postpone this international exhibition is an acknowledgement of the objective and logistical challenges currently facing the worldwide community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Originally scheduled to open on December 13, 2020, the Kingston Biennial’s curatorial team is being led by David Scott, Chair of the Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, founder and editor of the journal Small Axe, and curator of Caribbean Queer Visualities and “The Visual Life of Social Affliction.”
Scott is joined by co-curators O’Neil Lawrence, the Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica; Wayne Modest, Head of Research for Material Culture for the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde, the Afrika Museum and the Wereldmuseum, in the Netherlands; and Nicole Smythe-Johnson, writer and independent curator, currently a PhD student at the University of Texas, Austin.
Pressure is the theme of the the 2021 Kingston Biennial which will feature the work of artists based locally, and in the Caribbean Diaspora, selected by the curatorial team. The exhibition will be accompanied by extended city-wide programming aimed at provoking engagement and discussion beyond the walls of the National Gallery. Pressure, according to the Curatorial Director, David Scott, “…is a profoundly resonant and vivid term—really a keyword—that maps an interconnected range of historically rooted experiences that evoke an environment burdened with difficulties and hardships.”
“The whole history of Jamaica could be written as a story of pressure. But it is not a solely passive experience. It’s not a condition undergone, endured, tolerated, and it is not intended to signal a sense of victimhood and victimization. To the contrary, what is instructive about the Jamaican experience and the idiom of pressure is that it has always had a generative and dissenting quality about it.
“Pressure is a source of critical and creative counter-powers and creative oppositional activity. It is an inspiring human resource, and historically it has been deeply fertile ground for some of the most brilliant works of Jamaican cultural achievement. We will be thinking about and looking at this process in a very contemporary sense. In this endeavour to think about the role of pressure in Jamaican life, the curators will engage with the relation between visual art practice and the larger social, cultural, political and economic life that is our nation, Jamaica.
“The biennial is an exhibitionary form, a model for showing art to publics. Over the past decade or more, this form has grown in significance, such that biennials have become the most important art events in the global art world. Biennials have helped put cities on the global cultural map and helped to give voice to otherwise invisible art practices. In our view, Kingston should be part of this global process. As one of the oldest world cities with a varied and vibrant cultural life, Kingston has a lot to offer the global art world. And, as the curators urge, pressure is precisely an idiom in which to accentuate what is most creative in Jamaica.”
“The Kingston Biennial will now be more in line with other biennials around the world. We have a great team of curators, a good theme, a lot of talented artists and a complicated global environment so our audiences can expect a fascinating Kingston Biennial in 2021,” said Dr Jonathan Greenland, Senior Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica. “We were tremendously excited to start the planning of this new venture in 2019 and will continue to work to produce the best possible exhibition for its new date.”
If there are any questions, please contact the National Gallery of Jamaica.