New Book: Small Kings

Automatic Books, an independent editorial project curated by Elena Xausa and Tankboys with Tommaso Speretta, presents Small Kings (2010), a new book a book by the New York-based, Italian photographer Alessandro Zuek Simonetti. Small Kings gathers a series of black and white photos taken in the famous Jamaican dance hall/weekly street dance “Passa Passa” together with journalist Anicée Gaddis, author of an essay/poster included in the book, to tell a “risky story from both visual and narrative points of view.”

The photos were shot a few months before the Tivoli Gardens district in Kingston witnessed an armed conflict between the Jamaican Army and citizens who were fighting against the extradition of Christopher “Dudus” Coke.  Yardedge writes:

Anicée reminisces, “A night spent at Passa Passa never ceases to entrance me. The watershed beauty, the stabs of enlightenment, the cosmic sense of awakening and bliss. For me, it’s always been about the dichotomy, about the hard fury and poetic sublime that are the true language of Jamaica.”

Photographer Alessandro Simonetti and writer Anicée Gaddis attended the weekly sound system Passa Passa on the Wednesday before New Year’s Eve, 2009. The resulting story is a collage of impressionistic cameos documenting the people, the place and the mood of one very memorable evening in Tivoli Gardens. The gunmen, the sound bwoys, the dancers, the skankers, the fish-sellers, and the bus drivers were all very much present.

This story is about Jamaica, a place where the street dance is a broad canvas unfolding in small vignettes. It brings to light the passionate, stoic and paradoxical odyssey of the codependent marriage between the local dons and the everyday citizens, the cops and the civilians, the uptown society set and the downtown struggling poor.

Passa Passa has been suspended indefinitely since the May incidents in Tivoli Gardens.

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