By Natassia Pratt
How do you rise above life’s dramatic changes and transitions with a smile on your face or a shred of hope? Some suggest that we don’t rise above them at all but instead move with these changes, these minor and major apocalypses. Joseph Campbell philosophizes that we have to dive into the fire to find our treasure. Many of the artists in this space have dived into an abyss of some kind. Whether it be the exposure of Bahamian societal issues in Kishan Munroe’s “Beacon of Hope”, physical and emotional turmoil in Kendra Frorup’s installations “Duran Duran” and “A Constant Internal Smile” or Dede Brown’s study of rebirth in her installation “Chaos is the law of nature; Order is the dream of man”, on the most basic level these works speak to our natural human instinct for persistent survival in the midst of change.
Munroe explores contentious topics and issues within his painting “Beacon of Hope”. We are a country that is “in the way” of many Haitian’s desperate for escape to the United States. As a result, Haitian immigration has become an inevitable and chronic problem that became exacerbated by shipwrecks, capsized boats and shanty towns burning to the ground. Munroe is concerned with those whose lives are threatened to be crushed under the weight of this and similar issues. Child abuse, oil exploration and women’s rights are only a few tensions that Munroe visualizes. One may ask where is the hope? Munroe believes that those who have survived are this hope, those who have risen above the many shipwrecks that have crashed into the reefs of this country, both beautiful and deadly. Only these persons, who are indeed beacons of light, can guide out those of us with flickering flames.
“Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” These words by philosopher Joseph Campbell are an ideal frame for Frorup’s double installation. “Duran Duran” is a visual representation of the past that forms the life of the moving man and the maze of roads one take to get to a better future. Each step is a literal and figurative weight on our shoulders. There does exist moments in time when we must fight for our future. The red foreground on one of the two panels of “Duran Duran” speaks to this violence and its necessity; this hustle and flow that is a must for any person intent on survival. “A Constant Internal Smile” addresses the micro to the macro blows that seem to strike with the force and efficiency of Muhammad Ali with a speed ball. Births, deaths, a job lost, a job gained, a love lost, a love gained; small and large calamities that disturb worlds already peppered with chaos. Frorup asks and answers the question; When the dust settles, what will we find in the end?
Dede Brown’s installation, “Chaos is the law of nature; Order is the dream of man” speaks to battling forces that have a mysterious existence and strange tension; chaos and order. The moment one morph into the other is Brown’s definition of an apocalypse. Rightly so since Campbell wrote that “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again”. Where else can one find themselves but at the tail end of a chaotic experience? A dramatic rebirth and realignment at the human and universal level are similar discoveries that Brown explores through her installation. The sum of each part of Brown’s installation is representative of a rebirth and change. Each suspended feather and their cumulative composition suggest a sense of alignment that is constantly in motion. And motion is a prerequisite for change.
National Exhibition (NE) 6: Kingdom Come is currently on display in T1 and T2. The National Art Gallery Of The Bahamas will be closed on Monday, December 24th, Tuesday, December 25th and Wednesday, December 26th.