By Holly Bynoe
The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB) will open the Ninth National Exhibition (NE9) on Thursday, December 13th, 2018, from 6- 9 p.m. For the past 15 years, the NAGB has committed itself to the nurturing and fostering of a healthy creative ecosystem, and it continues to push the frontiers and foundations of cultural value and consciousness across the nation and its diasporas.
With contributions from more than 30 artists, performers, writers and academics, this iteration of the National Exhibition, under the theme and title “The Fruit and The Seed” curated by Chief Curator Holly Bynoe, will present a vibrant and dynamic series of programming events including a main exhibition in the upper galleries of the NAGB, readings, screenings, performances, education workshops and panels.
The call for works which was presented in July had several new facets to it including prompts that lead to greater cultural and social engagement through art. The call which solicited over 100 submissions, presented the “The Fruit and the Seed” as a socially unique project, which centres around how artists are working to define their space and experiences. Whether it be through the lens of race, gender, parity and class as a way to clarify cultural, social and aesthetic decisions, the art-making process is used as a tool to bring to the fore ideologies on activism and advocacy, leading to a more empathetic and understanding culture.
The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB), a world-class museum with a passion for knowledge and a drive to push cultural boundaries is looking at ways that its public can come to acknowledge and use the institution as a safe space and as a haven and site for the contesting of rooted and burdened ideologies and speculations about our futures.
With that, we engaged the creative community with several questions around how they make work; the context and the function of said works which included: How are they diversifying experiences and thoughts through art? What language/devices are they using to speak about (re)presentation? How are they unfixing colonial understandings of our society and decolonising spaces with new ideologies and narratives? How are they working with The Bahamas’ vulnerable geography to advocate for the environment? How are they encouraging colleagues and peers in this creative ecology? How are they defending and protecting those that continue to be stateless? What do the paths of resistance look like in their lives, families, communities and the expansive country? How are they making space for themselves and for others that share differing perspectives, and the like?
The NE9 will support the works of Melissa Alcena, Gabrielle Banks, Ian Bethell-Bennett, April Bey, Jenna Chaplin, Cydne Coleby, Saskia D’Aguilar, Sonia Farmer, Kendra Frorup, Tamika Galanis, Yasmin Glinton, Jalan Harris, Charlotte Henay, Allan Jones, Kachelle Knowles, Rashad Leamount, A.L. Major, Anina Major, Jodi Minnis, Jo Morasco, Letitia Pratt, esteemed Trinidadian author and poet Shivanee Ramlochan, Toni Alexia Roach, Eric Rose, Heino Schmid, Dave Smith, Tiffany Smith, Edrin Symonette, Natascha Vasquez and Averia Wright.
Treating the NE as an environ, an organic entity with its various forms we will be using the NAGB expanding and flourishing campus in extraordinary ways, activating the newly open Fiona’s Theatre and Sculpture Garden with readings, performances and entertainment through the ending of March 2019. Fiona’s Season, which kicked off early this month with Shakespeare in Paradise, will support two events in February and March of 2019 with the works of Ivanna Gaitor, Princess Pratt, Ide Thompson, Martysta Turnquest, Christine Wilson and Xan Xi. While the Sculpture Garden which continues to grow into a luscious space populated with art, foliage and the wilds of nature, will come to life with a new organic hybrid work by Alexandra TImchula.
Angelika Wallace-Whitfield will be activating various sites across Downtown Nassau including the campus of the NAGB, several spots across the Over-the-Hill communities, PopopStudios and NINE in Chippingham, the University of the Bahamas (UB) and other public spaces with her powerful project “Hope is a Weapon.”
Finally, UB educator and chemist turn wood-worker, Danny Davis, will be the Artist-in-Residence in collaboration with The Current at Baha Mar for the next three months producing work for “The Fruit & the Seed” and developing a series of tea boxes which speak towards the vestiges of colonialism and ritual making across the island archipelago.
The NE9 promises to unveil intriguing, exciting and mindful works that catalogue our contemporary moment, giving breath to our spaces, evolving culture and social critique and awareness that is a central compartment to the move towards greater independence.
“The Fruit & the Seed” opens to the public on Thursday, December 13th, 2018 starting at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public and FREE to attend.