With its eyes set on uniting the members of the region’s visual art scene for the advancement of the Caribbean as a whole, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) will be launching the inaugural Double Dutch project to do just that. The Double Dutch project is an ongoing commitment to exhibit the works of two artists – one from The Bahamas and the other from another nation in the region – in a two-person show at the NAGB. Each iteration of Double Dutch will be exhibited for two months with two projects occurring annually during summer.
The goal of Double Dutch is to bring local and regional artists — who may be divided by distance or language but share common histories — together by encouraging them to work with a group of ideas that hone in on personal, political and social trends specific to the West Indies. The project presents a challenge with a set of conditions through which a provocative body of work is produced through collaboration and exchange. This, Double Dutch organizers say, is crucial to the development of a contemporary Caribbean identity.
The project’s name is a play on the classic jump-rope game of the same title. Double Dutch is played with two separate ropes turning in opposite directions by two rope turners. There may be one or more jumpers. To be successful at the game, the jumpers and turners must find synchronization, consider actions, balance and each other’s momentum.
Similarly Double Dutch artists will be working in pairs. Together they will form the ‘rope turners’. In this instance, Bahamian-born, London-based artist Blue Curry, and Bermudian artist James Cooper have agreed to unite for the first iteration of Double Dutch. The artists are familiar with each other’s work – they collaborated at Liquid Courage Gallery in 2014 as part of the 10-year planning process for Transforming Spaces. Under the exhibition, Title the Flood, Cooper and Curry borrowed and expanded the idea of Le Corbusier’s Museum of Unlimited Growth.
Continuing the trajectory, the two will now present an interrelated body of work at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas in a show titled 50/50. A double entendre, the exhibition’s title refers to two counterparts on equal footing as well as the 50 works Curry and Cooper will each present at the show.
Cooper’s series of digital images explores his relationship to photography and its inherent evolution and flexibility. His 50/50 contribution, titled “REDTREE”, attempts to find a balance between the representational qualities of photography and abstraction.
Blue Curry’s untitled intervention will further scrutinize the use of industrially-produced objects designed for mass consumption. By repurposing hair combs, the artist creates a typology of a new object on display and shown in repetition, as if forming a collection of a new cultural artefact. This critical approach fetishizing commercial objects is now a central component of the artist’s practice.
Together, the artists seek to tap into an open space investigating two themes: “story”, which targets regional concepts such as trade and diaspora, and “color”, which encompasses colloquial classifications of race such as ‘tar’, ‘mango-skinned’, ‘salt’, ‘red’ and ‘pure’.
The inaugural Double Dutch exhibition, 50/50 will open at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas on June 2 and will be on display until July 27.