Contemporary visual art exhibit at IDB in Washington DC

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A post by Peter Jordens.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) presents “FLOW: Economies of the Look and Creativity in Contemporary Art from the Caribbean.” This exhibit explores the aesthetic diversity of the Caribbean as reflected in the work of its contemporary artists. It is be open to the public from June 9 to August 29, 2014 at the IDB Cultural Center Art Gallery in Washington, DC.

The exhibition displays works by 27 artists from fourteen countries – Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname – represented in the IDB’s Art Collection as well as art loaned to the exhibition by private collectors, art galleries, and from the artists themselves. The exhibit was curated by art historians Elvis Fuentes (former curator of Museo del Barrio in New York) and Meyken Barreto. The exhibition explores the way in which creative popular expressions, often dismissed as minor arts, are employed by Caribbean artists to critically comment on today’s image-driven cultures.

In the urban dictionary, “flow” refers to the rapper’s ability to rhyme in a skillful manner; it’s an aesthetic quality that denotes mastery of improvisation […]. For the curators, the term “flow” highlights one of the most important trends in the Caribbean’s contemporary visual culture: the appropriation of elements of popular culture in relation to the economies of “the look,” such as make-up, hairstyle, nail art, aesthetic surgery, tattooing, piercing, and other body modifications, which foster concepts of embellishment and image-making throughout the region and its diaspora. [The curators] selected this term as the title of the exhibit to highlight the importance of creative culture in the development of dynamic economies.

Changes in the global economy have significantly impacted the Caribbean in recent years, and Caribbean artists have been affected by these dramatic economic and social trends. “FLOW” offers a visual review of the dynamic stages of the creative economy (popularly known as the “Orange Economy”) in terms of entertainment, fashion, beauty pageants, body modifications and cosmetic surgery, as well as in related industries, such as professional sports and music. The Caribbean’s aesthetic diversity is reflected in the works of the region’s most outstanding contemporary artists, many of which are presented in this unique exhibition. . Looking themselves in the mirror to debunk gender and racial stereotypes, mimicking methods of beauty parlors and barbershops, and caricaturing attitudes in relation to ideals of beauty, these artists unveil the entanglement between image and power.

For the IDB’s press release, go to http://www.iadb.org/en/news/news-releases/2014-06-03/idb-exhibit-on-the-aesthetic-diversity-of-the-caribbean,10829.html.

For a guest blog by curator Elvis Fuentes, go to http://blogs.iadb.org/caribbean-dev-trends/2014/06/11/flow.

Also see http://arcthemagazine.com/arc/2014/06/idb-presents-flow-economies-of-the-look-and-creativity-in-contemporary-art-from-the-caribbean (includes a full list of the participating artists and a selection of the work on exhibit).

A short introductory video for the exhibit is at http://vimeo.com/97368661.

For more information, contact Debra Corrie of the IDB Cultural Center at dcorrie@iadb.org.

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