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Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Mixed Media Blog

Filtering by Tag: NAGB

Roach on my bread.

Holly Bynoe

By Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett

There was yet another illustration of ownership in Jodi Minnis’ exhibition, “It’s a Bahamian Thing!” Perhaps the objectification of women by men, the social construct of women being seen as inferior and limited to that 19

th

century concept of being chattel or property, has become clear. On Thursday, January 14, at the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery, Jodi Minnis opened her the exhibition and unveiled a compelling, if not disturbing, social commentary on the state of national ‘sweethearting’.

In Minnis’ works, Avvy’s song “Roach On My Bread” is deconstructed and turned around to discuss the other side of patriarchal domination. Avvy’s song decries

his woman

cheating on him, and the fatness of her bread that belongs to him; men are allowed and encouraged to cheat on women, but women certainly are not socially allowed to cheat on men. They must, though, submit to be cheated on.

Minnis’ exhibition works to show how women are imprisoned in a room full of roaches as men are encouraged to womanize and commit adultery. The works capture the shift in scale of the discourse, but also seriously challenges the level of social commitment to cheating masculinity. The audience is invited into a space where the woman in question, the man’s ‘bread’, is shrouded in roaches from his inability to keep his masculinity under raps. The works show women in all the usual positions and the numerous roaches that surround them/her. In my reading of the artistic discussion, the often faceless women stands for all women in society and while apparently silent and submitting to the exploitation and demeaning treatment, is also resistant to the faceless sexploitation.

Minnis grapples with many layers of social discourse from allowing sweethearting to ‘provoking’ it through culturally entrenched aphrodisiacs, which is where the conch and its many culinary adaptations seem to come in. The masculinist discourse is apparently not disturbed, but it really is. Once women begin to speak out, can the same status quo continue uninterrupted? Once women are empowered, will they continue to be property of men? Minnis posits all kinds of questions, and cultural scapegoats – common cuisine items – are well placed around the upper floor. Is it really the fault of the aphrodisiac?

Misogyny and double standards

Understanding that adultery will occur in all cultures, and at all levels, it is not condoned or encouraged as a right or need of men. The street speak is that all men, in order to have their man card validated, must have more than one woman. Yet, these men take little to no responsibility for any of their behavior, nor for the women they are meant to ‘like’ or love.

In fact, they are encouraged to simply use these women as if they were chattels and to reduce them to ‘bread’, or to a part of their anatomy, referred to in a very demeaning fashion.

Minnis creates a language that shows all of this, but leaves space for the viewer to see him or herself in the exhibition. The art is not heavy handed nor is it overly controlled. The lines are clean and the colors work well to demonstrate a nuanced but uncomplicated interpretation of cultural norms and social mores.

We must be troubled that, in the 21

st

century, women are still seen as chattels; this view of women is at times reinforced by some women themselves. Further, the discourse, while showing the cultural language of gender inequality and hypermasculinty, packs a punch because it articulates how pervasive and precarious this problem is.

As the government moves into a new phase of liberalization through national health, its members’ loose behavior also condones high levels of sweethearting and gender-based discrimination. I like Minnis’ uncomplicated demonstration of the lack of culpability for male behavior through the use of cultural icons and idioms to excuse it.

Minnis’s exhibition captures art and culture, and interlocks them in a debate with music that so often espouses serious gender biases and encourages gender-based violence through its lyrics and nuances. Bahamian culture provides a lively discussion on social trends and on public officials and their behavior, but we seem to be venturing further into a far less critical acceptance of misogyny and paternalism, accompanied by the overt sexualization and objectification, especially of women.

Sweethearting and morality

Minnis’ work shows some very serious cracks in our Christian veneer. It has a youthful, cool and fun edginess to it as well as an awareness of inconsistencies. The youth are deflowered all too young. Can we say that her work captures the serious and complex nature of nationally encouraged gender inequality and sexual exploitation through power imbalance? Can we say that young artists are excellent at being ambassadors to counter a great deal of the normative behaviour we accept as the country slips further into chaos? Avvy’s song is terrific in its beat and nuanced speak, and Minnis explodes that with her

‘gentle’ confrontation with the status quo and the gendered message.

As many young men offered, the woman was the one doing the ‘roaching’.

But as many young women pointed out, what young woman would want to sit in a room filled with roaches?

Seriously, how many women choose to be roached?

How many women choose to be seen as nothing more than bread?

Gender-based violence

Nationally, the debate is quiet, but gender-based violence is flourishing, and in fact, growing. We must not forget that the last few months have witnessed some serious sexual assault cases, many of them kept from the public eye, others tramped out on social media. Of these, few have received the uncritical attention of the officers of the law. This country has chosen to adopt tourism as its culture, according to the minister of tourism. Yet, tourist women are not safe to enjoy the very attraction we claim we are so good at offering? And then, public officials who see no problem in tramping out their sexual proclivities toward violence and domination do not see their role for encouraging serious social dysfunction.

Minnis and the conch are wonderful and necessary social conversations. Through her work, she demonstrates masculine privilege and female disempowerment through social inequalities and a culture that is quickly becoming unapologetically violent, but which excuses men from their violence. We are venturing into extremely interesting ground; I hope that, from this conversation, other chatter will arise and some real positive change will begin to happen. Art influences, as does music. Let’s build on a positive influence.

Reflecting on Dave Smith’s ‘Headlines’ at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation

Holly Bynoe

There were sunsets, palm trees and brightly painted murder scenes in Dave Smith’s most recent show at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF). Aptly titled “Headlines”, Smith referenced the local dailies in the exhibition that was on display at the DAF from November 2015 to January 2016.

Though he no longer lives in The Bahamas, the country is often the focus of his work. For years he has painted the idyllic scenes found in tourist-centric locales and middle and upper class neighborhoods. These are presented alongside the familiar landscapes of Over-the-Hill neighborhoods. Jolting combinations are not unusual for the artist; he has long been known and admired for his confidence in depicting cultural disparities. Still, for some, the contrasting medleys appeared with much rawness in Headlines.

For the past few years, on a regular basis, the media has been tragically peppered with crime reports, relaying details of the most recent violent crimes to an increasingly uncomfortable public. Most of the men who make the reports do so because they are either the latest bodies removed by mortuary personnel or the ones believed to be responsible for violent crimes. An uneasy feeling has become normalized for much of the public, as has the storyline of young, black and disenfranchised men being killed and sent to prison.

In Headlines, two common scenarios were presented in Smith’s works: the sun shines on bikini-clad women of leisure and grinning, black poolside servers, while visuals of bloody bodies in a separate plane shocked viewers into considering the illogic of the combination.

At the show, audiences could not escape contemplating the inconsistencies of the current situation that exists beyond the boundaries of the DAF. The Bahamas touts a reputation as an easily accessible paradise and prides itself on its hospitality industry, which is arguably one of the most advanced and lucrative in the Caribbean region. Large resorts provide entertainment and a sterile beach environment for guests. Many of these hotels reserve executive positions for expats and foreign workers; scores of undereducated Bahamians take on positions of service, only to, at the end of the day, return to the same communities plagued with gang warfare.

It is difficult coming to terms with the contrasting realities. Only recently, the sexual assault of an American visitor by an unlicensed Jet Ski operator off of Paradise Island raised protests and uproar in the media. Yet, it would be a considerable feat to quantify the daily rate of unreported and uninvestigated sexual assault on inner city girls and women.

For some collectors, it might also be a challenge looking at a murder scene on a regular basis – even one that hangs on a wall. Others may question the benefits – if any – of crime and violence of this nature becoming normalized and accepting of the image of an anonymous, murdered black man. Still, it could be argued that by inviting works like these into middle and upper class homes, collectors could consider how out of place the visual is in their homes and across the wider country as a whole.

Parallels could be drawn between this notion and the work being progressed by Black Lives Matter, which has been protesting widespread passive acceptance of the disproportionate force used by the American police force on black men.

It is not Smith’s intention to poke fun or rile up audiences; but to offer a critique and a counter image. Seeking only to present two irreconcilable facets of the country, he leaves decision-making and judgment calls to his works’ viewers.


For more information on Dave Smith, visit the artist’s profile on the DAF website or on http://www.artslant.com/website/dave-smith.

TS2016 PRESS CONFERENCE RELEASE

Holly Bynoe

The Transforming Spaces Committee held a Press Conference today at the Towne Hotel to explain its mission and to introduce its new branding campaign whilst announcing plans for the new and exciting TS2016 Art Tour entitled “SWELL – Community + Collaboration” scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13.

Recently incorporated as a non-profit organization headed by Founding Members: Jay Koment, President; John Cox, Vice President; Antonius Roberts, Treasurer; and Pam Burnside, Secretary,

the organization’s mission of educating the public about Bahamian art; exposing, promoting and supporting local artists; challenging artists to think and create in innovative ways; exposing current trends in Bahamian art as well as in the international arena; dialoguing and collaborating with art communities regionally and internationally; and raising funds to support these programmes was outlined.

The organization’s new branding images were designed by dynamic creative duo Cydne Coleby and Khia Poitier. The creative vision for TS was to present a brand that was fresh, modern, and adaptable. The design offers a unique opportunity to highlight art within the negative space of the logo creating opportunities for engagement with the larger art community and endless possibilities for marketing and merchandising. The re-branding effort utilizes sleek and contemporary fonts and colors that amount to an overall adaptive branding system that can be reformatted and refashioned as needed. The re-design also extends to digital and social media platforms, most notably on the organization's website

www.tsbahamas.com

and facebook page.

Attired in their branded TS2016 logo shirts, the TS Committee shared their plans for this year’s Art Tour which will take place for the first time at the main venue of the Towne Hotel on George Street. Towne Hotel owners, Ron and Isabella Overend were honoured to partner with the Committee to host this year’s art event at their venue which already displays pieces of their personal collection of Bahamian Art. “We have always attended the Transforming Spaces Art Tour and now we will be hosting it at our establishment!” stated Ron. “The Tour will take place in five rooms on the upper floor, as well as the landings and the ground floor pool area which will all be transformed for the event. It is very exciting to be involved and we look forward to hosting the many visitors during that weekend, whilst also exposing our regular hotel guests to the beauty of Bahamian Art!” The Towne Hotel Exhibition will be open to TS2016 patrons from 1pm until 10pm on Saturday and from 1pm until 4pm on Sunday. Food and drink will also be available for sale.

The Transforming Spaces Board, who extended an Invitational Call to artists, will be curating the Towne Hotel exhibition along with Dede Brown and Holly Bynoe. John Cox explained the rationale behind the theme’s title: “The word “SWELL” refers to not only the powerful image of the motion of our ocean’s waves, but also the increasing growth of the Bahamian artistic movement, which we, as an art community, have been encouraging for decades. Recognizing the importance of strengthening the community through working together, we have encouraged the artists in this exhibition to collaborate with other artists in designing their pieces.”

Antonius Roberts added, “We continue to mentor and promote the younger generation of emerging Bahamian artists as well as push the boundaries of artistic expression so that we stay in tune with global trends.

Having catered to over 4,000 appreciative patrons over twelve years of hard work, the time has come for us, as Bahamian artists, to make our voices heard within the international arena by showing the world that Bahamian art has a powerful role to play. ”

Pam Burnside stated, “During these very difficult times in our Bahamian society when we are surrounded by so much negativity, our vision for TS2016 is that we, as artists, can provide the public with a feeling of hope and encouragement, realizing that art has the ability of fortifying us as a people to withstand life’s many daily challenges. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Charitable Art Foundation who has been a sponsor of this event for many years and was the first once again to sign up this year. We encourage other individuals as well as corporate sponsors to come on board because as my late husband stated:

Art belongs to everyone and to ensure its stability and development we all must work together, join all of our strengths and give our full support

.”

In addition to the Towne Hotel venue, there will also be exhibition openings and activities taking place during the week at participating satellite art galleries. On Wednesday, March 9, Popop ICVA, curated by John Cox and Heino Schmid will show “Triple Double” a selection of work by 14 artists along with Open Studios, and New Providence Art & Antiques at Popop will open with a show curated by Jay Koment showcasing the Junkanoo process in Production and the D’Aguilar Art Foundation which will be exhibiting ‘Jammin’ 4’, curated by Tessa Whitehead. Hillside House, curated by Antonius Roberts, will be exhibiting the work of various artists entitled “Tourists Only” which will open to the public on Thursday evening, March 10 along with The Central Bank of The Bahamas’ Art Gallery which will feature a graphic themed show by 6 artists along with a ceramics exhibit in the Great House at the Central Bank, curated by Jodi Minnis. In addition, an Open Call is being placed for artwork to be displayed on Saturday only in “The Fringe” which will use the Central Bank’s outdoor perimeter as a venue. Artists interested in participating in The Fringe should contact Jodi Minnis at jodi0minnis@gmail.com.

On Saturday morning, patrons are invited to once again visit the satellite galleries to enjoy an additional cross-cultural artistic event at their leisure. They will have the benefit of moving between the various venues by shuttle buses provided by Bahamas Experience Travel and Tours, who have been a sponsor of the TS events since its inception. Trained TS Ambassadors will be available at all of the locations to offer assistance throughout the day.

TS President, Jay Koment stated “We are looking forward to another creatively uplifting event for 2016, and we invite the public to join us for this experience.” Tickets, still priced at $35, will afford patrons entry into all the venues and events and will be available for purchase at the beginning of February at Hillside House, Cumberland Street; the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, West Hill Street; and Doongalik Studios on Village Road.

Reinforcing connection

NAGB

Chief Curator of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) Holly Bynoe has been seeking new opportunities for local and regional artists abroad. Invited to take part in Caribbean Focus, the British Council’s international curatorial research trip, Bynoe traveled to Scotland, last month with a cohort of eight other curators and cultural workers from the Caribbean, South and North America and India for 10 days of researching and networking.

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Reinforcing connection

Holly Bynoe

NAGB chief curator looks for potential links for regional artists abroad!!

Chief Curator of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) Holly Bynoe has been seeking new opportunities for local and regional artists abroad. Invited to take part in Caribbean Focus, the British Council’s international curatorial research trip, Bynoe traveled to Scotland, last month with a cohort of eight other curators and cultural workers from the Caribbean, South and North America and India for 10 days of researching and networking.

NAGB Chief Curator Holly Bynoe presents an overview of her work at the British Council International Curatorial Research Trip. 

The connection with the British Council was made at a Tilting Axis conference held in February of this year at Fresh Milk Art Platform in Barbados. Bynoe is a co-founder of Tilting Axis, an ongoing series of conferences and discussions dedicated to developing infrastructure between independent art organizations across the Caribbean, U.S., E.U. and Asia. In hopes of engaging with the Caribbean cultural industry, British Council representatives attended the conference and returned to report to Juliet Dean, visual arts advisor at the British Council.

While the spring and summer months were filled with travels and changes, particularly as Bynoe joined the NAGB as chief curator, the British Council was set on returning the hospitality. In late September, Bynoe was invited to travel to Glasgow to share her work and mission with others from across the region and Atlantic.

“I think it’s good to figure out how the British Council wants to participate in the Caribbean cultural sphere,” said Bynoe. “When you are a post-independence Anglophone territory, it comes with a deep suspicion. But it seems as though they want to facilitate a connection between the UK, and the Caribbean. A stream to support exchanges, collaborations, mentorship programs and direct linkages with institutions within the Caribbean is what they want to achieve and build on.”

Sponsored entirely by the British Council, the trip was an exploratory one, and Bynoe hoped to see how the council’s interests would align with her own as curator of the NAGB. The group’s primary objective was finding out more about contemporary art practices and the creative sector in the UK, and in return, the curators presented individual overviews of their work.

Bynoe hopes more of Graham Fagen’s works like this, “The Slave’s Lament”, will travel throughout the Caribbean. 

Bynoe is well connected throughout the region. In addition to being the NAGB’s chief curator, she is editor-in-chief and founder of ARC Magazine, meaning that she has dedicated herself to travelling the region, fostering relationships with artists, curators and art institutions. This has been done in an effort to promote artists from the Caribbean and contemporary art movements in the region on a larger platform. Still, Bynoe knew no one other than artist and Alice Yard administrator Christopher Cozier, whom she met when he curated an exhibition showing some of her works. The trip offered her the chance to build new relationships from others with similar backgrounds. And with much of the work in the Caribbean focusing on a shared history of colonization and the tensions that come with it, a partnership with the British Council could be eye-opening for many on both sides of the pond.

“I just want to be able to show up and confirm commitment, because the British Council has a vast wealth of infrastructural knowledge and connections, which could be used in very specific ways to support either The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean. So that’s my interest – figuring out where I can intersect and develop collaborations,” Bynoe explained.

Graham Fagen is one example of the ways individual artists can benefit from the exchange. Fagen has already made a name for himself internationally, having represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale this year. His work now reflects his studies in the history of slavery and cultural trauma for those on both sides of the Pond. Fagen has been deconstructing the ways we contemplate and represent slavery and it is anticipated that his pieces will travel throughout the Caribbean region.

The Seventh National Exhibition, which opened last December at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, was curated by Holly Bynoe and Michael Edwards. 

According to Bynoe, the British Council’s interest in the visual art arena in the Caribbean should be viewed as something that local and regional artists should tap into.

The British Council showing an interest in the visual art industry in the Caribbean is a profitable moment for artists, as we will benefit from the council’s infrastructural support,” she said. “In a way, they are looking at a more holistic way to define their support… all granting organizations have their own inherent agendas, so defining our independence and agency within this is going to be crucial and challenging.”

For more information on the NAGB and the ways it is forging connections with international creative spaces, visit its website,

www.nagb.org.bs

, or Facebook page, or call 328-5800.

The writing on the wall

NAGB

One of the much-talked about highlights of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) Mixed Media Art Summer Camp has been the new mural – or, rather, murals – adorning the public wall spaces at the NAGB. As living, collaborative works, the murals have been completed by groups of campers and individual artists, all of whom joined the NAGB for some time during its summer camp, led by Education and Curatorial Support Associate Abby Smith.

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The National Art Gallery welcomes the public to its summer events

NAGB

The National Art Gallery Mixed Media Art Summer Camp kicks off its first session bright and early on Monday morning. Looking forward to a jam-packed three weeks, the NAGB team will be exposing campers ages five to 15 to at least three different art forms over the course of each three-week session. For those who missed the chance to register for the first session, space is still available for the second session, which runs July 13 to 31. Contact Abby Smith or Corinne Lampkin at 328-5800 for more information.

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NAGB announces new on-going commitment to linking the region’s artists

NAGB

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.

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Members of the Caribbean visual art community demonstrate unity, progression at Tilting Axis conference.

NAGB

Dedicated to forging infrastructure between independent art organizations and museums operating across the Caribbean, U.S., E.U., U.K., African continent and China, the international visual arts conference, “Tilting Axis: Within and beyond the Caribbean – shifting models of sustainability and connectivity”, was held recently in Barbados.

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The NAGB Announces 2015 Easter Egg Hunt

NAGB

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) will be hosting an Easter egg hunt for kids ages 12 and under on Saturday, April 4. Next month, youngsters are invited to join the NAGB team from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., for a few hours of basket weaving, candy searching, face painting and seasonal festivities. The cost of $10 per child includes admission and a snack and drink. The deadline for registration and payment is Wednesday, April 1. For more information, contact Education and Curatorial Support Associate Abby Smith at 328-5800 or asmith@nagb.org.bs.

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‘Cul-De-Sac’ by Dave Smith is NAGB’s Artwork of The Month

NAGB

We start most of our tours at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) downstairs, in the space showcasing our permanent exhibition, Bahamian Domestic. A show centered on portraying everyday life in The Bahamas, Bahamian Domestic includes visual representations of the places Bahamians live, work and play. It also takes a deeper look at some of the social issues that The Bahamas still grapples with today. For locals and international visitors, it serves as a comprehensive overview of works by some of the country’s younger and more established artists.

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A vanishing act: There is concern over the seemingly fleeting presence of artwork in public spaces

NAGB

In 2010, Caribbean Bottling Company – the local bottler of Coca-Cola – and the Downtown Nassau Partnership (DNP) collaborated in an initiative geared toward putting the country’s visual art scene on the Downtown Nassau map. Spread over 15 months, the Love My Bahamas Campaign introduced works of art – mainly murals and sculptures – to walls and cleared spaces throughout the small city, which hosts thousands of international visitors and locals every day.

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COB departments team up to transform the NAGB

NAGB

This year, College of The Bahamas (COB) students and faculty are bridging gaps and celebrating autonomy through group work in the 2015 Transforming Spaces. The annual art tour unveiling thought-provoking transformations in galleries and creative spaces across New Providence will this year be held over March 21 and 22. The 2015 Transforming Spaces bus tour will treat explorers to metamorphosed areas at Hillside House, Doongalik Studios, PopopStudios, the D’Aguilar Art Foundation, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) and Liquid Courage Gallery.

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Art of the month: ‘Enigmatick Funktification’

NAGB

It’d be rather difficult to explore our Bahamian Domestic Permanent Exhibition without noticing “Enigmatick Funktification” – an energetic work occupying more than 48 square feet of wall. The acrylic painting is the product of a collaborative approach, known as “Jammin’”, by John Beadle, the late Jackson Burnside and Stan Burnside.

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