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The Bahamas

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Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Mixed Media Blog

Gabrielle Banks' works supported at upcoming Sotheby's Auction "By Women for Tomorrow’s Women"

Holly Bynoe

NE9 participating artist, Gabrielle Banks' work "Bird Bath," (2018) will be supported in the upcoming Sotheby's Auction "By Women for Tomorrow’s Women" on March 1st. Banks is going to have her practice in very good company, auctioned alongside influential, iconic and powerful artists like Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Roni Horn, Carrie Mae Weems, Alice Neel and Cindy Sherman. Congratulations Gabby, we celebrate you and your deeply intimate and thoughtful works!

See Banks' feature on page 84:http://www.sothebys.com/pdf/2019/N10041/index.html

Gabrielle Banks’ “Bird Bath,” (2018)

Gabrielle Banks’ “Bird Bath,” (2018)

The Island Repeated: Toni Alexia Roach’s patterned approach to confronting the past

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis. The land we live in feels like a repetition. We are a repetition of limestone rocks across shallow seas. We are repetitions of faces across families. We repeat the things we learn in school and church and wherever else - many times without critique, and, most disconcertingly, we repeat the same models of power–mainly paternalistic–from hundreds of years ago. This is at the heart of what Toni Alexia Roach gets to in her work for the “NE9: The Fruit and The Seed.” We look at the visual repetitions - palm tree after palm tree, and beach after beach - but we also see that these images are not symbolic of the place we live in, of the Caribbean, they are symbolic of the very idea of the Caribbean picturesque.  

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Keeping the Crossroads Open: Caribbean film making new waves and presence at the Island House Film Festival

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett, The University of The Bahamas. Caribbean film and filmmaking is leaping and bounding into a new level of smart! The third annual Island House Film Festival (TIHFF) was held this past weekend from February 1st- 3rd, 2019 with a focus on documentary works from the region and beyond. The films that I write on all had their directors present speaking about the development of their films, giving festival attendees the chance to know more about their practices and the industries that makes their work possible. I want to focus on three Caribbean films, two from the Anglophone region and one from the independent French Caribbean, Haiti.  Both Haiti and English-speaking Caribbean countries are growing in their filmic representation or voice.  Kafou, 2017 a film about the Haitian reality truly captures the dark and light of everyday life. Having focused my attention this year on the Caribbean selection of films, I am writing about this film given its intense sociological and emotional impact. The film directed by Bruno Mourral is dark yet comic in its everydayness and the fact that life is often comic even in its tragedy.  The film is reminiscent of a greek tragedy, filled with people and noise, light and clamour, action and confusion that all spring into a story of corruption and mistake. 

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post: A much-needed education in empathy for the region

Natalie Willis

By Kevanté A.C. Cash. NAGB Correspondent. The storyline of the film The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)—the Grand Jury Prize Winner at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival—is one not too far-fetched to imagine for a queer person living in the Caribbean today, especially when considering the theme of malicious religious manipulation coming to the fore throughout the film. Given the recent polarizing conversations via social media and other channels among Bahamian LGBT rights activist Erin Greene and Jamaican singer-songwriter Buju Banton, whose 1992 hit Boom Bye Bye inspired controversy among the Bahamian people just last month, the timing of this film’s showing at the third annual Island House Film Festival (TIHFF) seems rather fitting and almost intentional, as a move towards a step in a much progressive direction.

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Transforming Spaces 2019!

Natalie Willis

Transforming Spaces (TS) 2019 is gearing up for its annual art bus tour which will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7. Slated to be another inspiring art event, this year’s theme “Sustainability – I Have A Dream – I Am the Dream - We are the Dream” is already bearing fruit. Having started since September 2018, the theme will extend into the year 2020 to highlight the mission statement of one of TS’s founding members, the late Jackson Burnside, who stated that ‘by the year 2020, more persons will visit The Bahamas for its art, culture and heritage, rather than merely for its sun, sand and sea.”  TS Executives, master artist Antonius Roberts and Pam Burnside, are spearheading this multi-year project which has its roots within the Bahamian community.

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A Botanical of Grief: Yasmin Glinton and Charlotte Henay connect with ancestors voices and put mother tongue to poetry.

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis. In much of cultural studies, the Caribbean region has been discussed as a place where people feel an uneasy, tense tie to landscape due to our history of people being displaced here. Paradise or purgatory, whether these islands were viewed as restorative or a place of exile - and truthfully, we have had both stories ring true throughout time, it’s all in the branding. Tourist narratives aside, this space is a difficult one to feel truly close to, the landscape feels at once that it is ours and that it is without of our reach given the fact we are all “from elsewhere”, as Stuart Hall (the late Jamaican scholar and father of cultural studies) stated. Poetry in visual art can also be a difficult fit - is it language? Is it visual? Is it both? Problematising our ties to the land and the neat boxes that traditionalists might wish to shove the vast world of poetry into, are the unapologetic works of Yasmin Glinton and Charlotte Henay. “A Botanical of Grief” (2018), displayed in subtle silver script bearing powerful words of great weight, exists between - like so many of us in the Caribbean. The work is between voices: of the authors, of their ancestors, of poet and of artist, but it also exists in a liminal space physically as it spans the high walls of the stairwell of the 1860’s old bones that make up the Villa Doyle. Stairs are between places, and so are we as children of the Caribbean. We are between Africa and Europe, between India and China, we come from Arawaks, Tainos and Caribs with difficult access to those mother tongues - and most importantly, we are an amalgam of any and all combinations of these continents.

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Lights, camera, action!

Holly Bynoe

By Kevanté Cash

In conversation with Anja Allen of The Island House to discuss the impact of The Island House Film Festival on the Bahamian creative arts community .

When The Island House (TIH) was built, it was done so with the intent not only to host guests from around the world within a unique touristic space that reflects most of Bahamian life, but also to act as a contributing space for community involvement and engagement. Thus, the vision for The Island House Film Festival (TIHFF) was born, according to Anja Allen, manager at TIH and organiser of TIHFF.

2019 IHFF poster with Festival art by Delton Barrett.

2019 IHFF poster with Festival art by Delton Barrett.

 When Allen and her team considered the missing element among events and activities celebrating artistic expression, they found aspects of storytelling and filmmaking were not included among more common place and established festivities. And such, they bridged the gap and in 2017 held the inaugural TIHFF premiering Maria Govan’s second feature “Play the Devil”.

Though the film festival is only in its third year, Allen says she has seen the impact it has made within the Bahamian creative arts community and how it has strengthened appreciation among Bahamian creatives for the medium of film and the artistry behind filmmaking.

“We have consistently grown our community engagement year to year. This year we are hosting three ‘Introduction to Filmmaking and Acting’ workshops led by the Bahamas Artist Movement (B.A.M) – one of which will be held at Government High School and the other two taking place at The Island House where a diverse mixture of students from L.W. Young, Government High School, St Anne’s and Galilee Academy will attend in an intimate group session.

Continuing Allen’s remarks, “We have also increased the amount of Bahamian films screened. We will be screening six Bahamian shorts throughout the festival with each filmmaker present to introduce their work. We have taken a big step forward this year by partnering with the University of The Bahamas, and will be hosting two lectures on campus for students to enjoy: ‘Screenwriting Lecture’ and ‘Insight into the Entertainment Industry Lecture’; as well as the screening of Trinidadian filmmaker Mariel Brown’s “Unfinished Sentences” on campus at 6 p.m. All of the UB related programme is FREE for all students.”

As organiser of the TIHFF, Allen says her goal for the festival was to add to the rich culture of The Bahamas by showing international, regional and  local films in an intimate surrounding. It was important for her and her team to introduce a non-competitive film festival where Bahamians and Bahamian residents can assemble to celebrate and focus on films and filmmakers from the Caribbean region, uplifting Bahamian ambassadors of local narrative films, such as Kareem Mortimer, Maria Govan, Lavado Stubbs, Travolta Cooper among others.  

She says hosting panel discussions and workshops for aspiring and existing filmmakers within the country was also another key goal of TIHFF team, citing, “Supporting panels and workshops that educate and inspire creativity amongst the Bahamian population, as well as placing a strong focus on education outreach programs, in order to expand and grow the film industry was important to us as well. We think that we have attained certain goals and are on the path to enhancing these goals and our reach. We have also made sure to keep all talks and workshops free and screenings at just $10 so the community at large may enjoy.”

This year, Allen and her team are grateful to support a diverse range of documentaries being featured within the festival from around the globe, namely: “Unfinished Sentences” from Trinidad & Tobago (screening at UB), “The Raft” from Sweden, “Icarus”, “Life in The Dog House” and “The Gospel According to André” from the United States, “Of Father’s and Son’s” from Germany/Syria and “Reggae Boys” from Jamaica.

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas joins in with Allen and TIHFF team in honouring international and regional, but especially Bahamian filmmakers who have made it that much easier to host festivities of the likes showcasing exceptional works that contribute to the greater good of the creative arts community.

 If you are interested in attending a workshop, panel discussion and/ or seeing a film this weekend, you may call 1-242-698-6300 or contact info@the-island-house.com for bookings, or visit their webpage at the-island-house.com/cinema for more information. The Island House Film Festival runs from Friday, February 1st through Sunday, February 3rd.

 

To Heal We Must Remember: Katrina Cartwright’s power figure uproots the past

Holly Bynoe

By Letitia Pratt. It is a hopeful mission of the African diasporas to heal the ancestral pain that Black peoples have inherited. This healing will only come to us in the process of remembering. One of the primary ways to initiate this process is through the creation and consumption of art, which invites us to remember the past, take stock of the present, and come to terms with the complex histories that influence our current experiences as Black people. This process is especially needed for Black Bahamians, whose past traumas shape how we view ourselves. It is incumbent on our ability to tell truths about our past: we must recall times of slave rebellions, punishments, uprisings and revolts. We must remember the slaves that escaped the tyranny of Lord Rolle of Exuma – only to be recaptured and severely punished – and remember the tragedy of Poor Kate of Crooked Island who died from torture in the stocks for seventeen days. (The Morning Chronicle, 1929). It is these stories we need to remember. These are the stories that shaped our ancestors. These are the traumas we need to heal from. Katrina Cartwright’s Nkisi/Nkondi Figure: Prejudice is the Theory, Discrimination is the Practice, (2012) does just that: It forces us to remember, and it inspires us to heal.

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Blank Canvas: January 30th, 2019, DC Pratt and the Island House Film Festival

Katrina Cartwright

On tonight's Blank Canvas we focus on two events taking place over the next few days in New Providence.

First we hear from DC Pratt (second from right), the son of Bahamian artist Chan Pratt, who was a colleague of the great Eddie Minnis and painted with a similar eye for our island. Chan died at a young age and, in his desire for his father’s legacy to live on, DC created the Chan Pratt Foundation, which supports young Bahamian artists in their career path by funding a scholarship to the University of The Bahamas. The annual fundraising event, the "Chan Pratt Inspiration," takes place at Sapodilla on West Bay Street tomorrow night from 7-10 p.m.

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The Grave Silence: Sonia Farmer and Shivanee Ramlochan give voice to victims of rape in The Caribbean

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis. The issue of rape, and subsequently its deafening silence, is a shocking social disservice in this country, and it is something we should be using our voices to ask many, many questions about. With a failed gender equality referendum, and marital rape still being legal, it is hardly surprising that the statistics for sexual assault in The Bahamas continue to rise. Read between the lines of the statistics and there’s still not enough room for the 60%+ unreported sexual assaults, let alone the “pick-up” lines (see: street harassment) that feeds into gender-based violence. The statistics for the rape of men are even less likely to show the severity of the situation. The sexual violence against women, children, and men, in addition to the commonplace armed robbery and assault, we are left with a labyrinth of heartache and bloodshed that is difficult to find our way out of.

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Under Attack: Averia Wright’s Elevating the Blue Light Special  and the Dualities of Bahamian Identity

Natalie Willis

By Ethan Knowles. War for much of the Caribbean is a remote idea – a thing of books, films and faraway lands. In a region characterized by calm waters, light breezes and laidback locals, the notion seems oddly out of place. But the idea is not just a distant one. It’s also awfully dangerous. War necessarily conflicts with what Caribbean nations like The Bahamas ‘should’ be, that is, a peaceful escape for the worn and overworked. Put simply: conflict in the Caribbean is off-brand. And in our Bahamaland, where at least sixty percent of the GDP and half the workforce rely on a carefully manufactured and embellished brand image, being off-brand can be about as deadly as armed conflict. As the daughter of a straw vendor in a family of straw vendors, Bahamian sculptor and expanded practice artist Averia Wright is well-acquainted with the brand of paradise we manufacture here. Her work, which grapples with issues affecting both The Bahamas and the region at large, is particularly concerned with tourism and its role as a neocolonialist system in the country today. Elevating the Blue Light Special (2018), Wright’s submission for the “NE9: The Fruit and The Seed,” addresses just this concern, exposing and critiquing the commercialisation of identity which is so central to the contemporary tourist economy.

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A Garden: Letitia Pratt creates new folklore in response to the biblical patriarchal storytelling surrounding women and their sexualities

Natalie Willis

By Kevanté A.C. Cash, NAGB Correspondent. Amid the cacophany of fragile male egos, speaking ever so loudly over the voices of the most vulnerable, the question arises: where can the disenfranchised go to feel safe and protected? To feel comfortable in one’s own skin? To be loved for themselves entirely, and not be used, abused, mistreated or abandoned? Organised religion, for years, has done a superb job in keeping the marginalised on the outskirts of the conversations that seeks to give them liberty. The marginalised meaning ‘the backbone of society’, the movers, makers, shakers and doers, the ones who are made to feel ashamed for how they express themselves and their sexualities. These people–women–I argue are the most disenfranchised group of individuals within society.

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Chan Pratt "Inspiration" Art Exhibit

Natalie Willis

Creativity and artistic expression come to life at the 2019 Chan Pratt Inspiration art exhibit. The legacy of master artist, Chan Pratt remains alive through the Chan Pratt Foundation’s annual art exhibition and cocktail reception.  The inaugural event of the year’s social scene brings together art lovers, collectors and socialites for a spectacular visual and auditory experience. The Chan Pratt Inspiration art exhibition and cocktail reception will be held on January 31, 2019 at Sapodilla Estates from 7pm until 10pm.  Tickets can be purchased at the NAGB or from the Chan Pratt Foundation. 

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"TIME UNDER TENSION" with Lynn Parotti at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation

Natalie Willis

Solo Exhibition by Lynn Parotti at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation. “TIME UNDER TENSION” Opens Thursday 7 February 2019. Exhibition continues until 1st March A phrase used during fitness training, ‘Time Under Tension’ refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set – referencing the stress through the mounting pain that the muscles endure to strengthen and lengthen. Lynn Parotti’s exhibition of the same name uses this phrase to bring to light the constant pressure that coral reefs endure as a result of the compounding impact of our human footprint and subsequent effects of global warming. The metaphor continues as ‘time’ is of paramount importance to the warming seas’ effect on coral. This new series of paintings titled ‘Bahama Land’ depicts Bahamian reefs in full, exuberant color: images of a landscape that will almost certainly be lost. Created during a time when news headlines read “Major Climate Report Describes a Strong risk of Crisis as early as 2040” (7th October 2018, NY Times), Parotti’s paintings give reason to take action and protect the environment around us. Coral bleaching results in no habitat for fish and sealife, leading to no food for sustenance living in poorer communities and the eventual destruction of the food chain.

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“Water: The giver and the taker of life”: Edrin Symonette’s “Salt of the Earth”

Natalie Willis

By Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett, The University of The Bahamas. Salt: pressed into flesh, brines and cures, drying left on lines, as flies land and enjoy a feast of decaying flesh; a colonial resource extracted from the spaces of the once far-flung regions of empire. Salt is a way of life; a natural resource abundantly available in the islands; the pain of enslaved Africans who laboured tirelessly in its corrosive briny suspension as they raked salt under hot sun. Their skin ulcered, backs bent and minds steeled against the dehumanisation of exploitation and enslavement.

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Painting to heal: Artist Gabrielle Banks lays bare the burdens of her troubled past in NE9 submission

Natalie Willis

By Kevanté A. C. Cash, NAGB Correspondent. The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) continues to provide a platform and be a safe space for artists across all genres to lay bare the sentiments of the heart through thematic responses to exhibition calls that seek to engage the wider Bahamian populace. Gabrielle Banks, student artist at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), took the opportunity of submitting works into the ninth National Exhibition (NE9) “The Fruit and The Seed” as a way to vocalise her thoughts and opinions and to heal from past pains and traumas. Furthermore, the artist also intended to inspire a discourse that is oftentimes swept underneath the rug and left for the minority of society to engage in.

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Strange Fruit: Kendra Frorup’s poignant banana plumes in “Inflorescence/Influence” for the NE9

Natalie Willis

By Natalie Willis

Though artist and educator Kendra Frorup may be using the imagery of the banana flower in her work in “NE9: The Fruit and the Seed”, this is anything but a literal interpretation of this year’s theme. Frorup cleverly takes the image of the banana plant - whose fruit is rife with symbolism in the Caribbean and the world over - but takes on its less represented anatomy, the flower, and gives this to the audience for consideration. The plant that has become iconic in the region with slavery and plantations, as well as the more base and salacious hypersexualised iconography emerging from the difficult tropes the slavery era brought forth that we are still forced to contend with today.

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