National Gallery of Jamaica Hosts the Jamaica Biennial 2017

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A report from Broadway World.

Open to the public from Tuesday, February 28 to Sunday, May 28, 2017, the 2017 Jamaica Biennial is organized by the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ), the largest and oldest public art museum in the Anglophone Caribbean. With a focus on Jamaica and Jamaica Diaspora artists with specially invited artists from other Caribbean nations, the Biennial will be housed in three locations including: the National Gallery and Devon House in Kingston and the National Gallery West in Montego Bay. The Biennial is team-curated by the NGJ’s curatorial department under the direction of its Executive Director, Dr. Veerle Poupeye. A series of Biennial opening events will take place from Friday, February 24 to Sunday, February 26.

Initiated in 1977 as an exhibition for only Jamaican art, the Jamaica Biennial is repositioning itself as a platform for Caribbean art as the region’s significance in the global contemporary arts landscape pivots and as contemporary artists from various islands gain relevance internationally.

The 2017 Jamaica Biennial will include 35 invited Jamaican artists, 49 local, juried Jamaican artists with 7 special projects by Caribbean artists. In addition, the Biennale will have tributes to local artists Alexander Cooper and Peter Dean Rickards. The Aaron Matalon Award, named after a former chairman and major benefactor of the NGJ, will be presented to the artist with the best entry; and the Dawn Scott Memorial Award, art critic Edward Gomez’s private initiative, will be awarded to a young or emerging artist whose work echoes the innovative spirit and social engagement of the work of the late Dawn Scott, a pioneering contemporary Jamaican artist.

Dr. Veerle Poupeye, the lead on the curatorial team, is a Kingston, Jamaica-based art and historian and curator specialized in Caribbean art.

“Part invitational and part juried, the Biennial is a very inclusive exhibition which brings into dialogue work in traditional and new media and established and emerging artists from Maria Magdelena Campos-Pons’ reflections to recent art school graduates such as Kelly-Ann Lindo,” says Poupeye. “There is no imposed theme but for each edition, certain shared themes come to the fore that reflect the concerns of the present moment, such as the politics of race, hair, migration, violence, human rights, and climate change.”

The other curatorial team members include O’Neil Lawrence, Senior Curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica and Monique Barnett Davidson, Assistant Curator in the Education Department of the National Gallery of Jamaica.

The judges for the Juried Section of the Biennial include Amanda Coulson, Director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Christoper Cozier, an artist, writer and curator from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Susanne Fredricks, Exhibitions Director at Gallery 128, Kingston, Jamaica and Omari Ra, Head of the Fine Arts Department at the School of Visual Arts at Edna Manley, College, Kingston, Jamaica.

Exhibition Venues

Located in the business district on the Kingston Waterfront, the National Gallery of Jamaica’s 30,000 sq ft of exhibition space is spread over two floors. The largest part of the Biennial will be on view here with work in traditional and new media. Among the 117 artists who will be featured at the NGJ are: Raquel Paiewonsky, Nadia Huggins, Marcel Pinas, Prudence Lovell, Oneika Russell, David Boxer, Di-Andre Caprice Davis, Judy Ann MacMillan, Bryan McFarlane, Phillip Thomas, Simon Benjamin, Jacqueline Bishop, Olivia McGilchrist, Richard Nattoo, Samere Tansley, Shoshanna Weinberger, Cosmo Whyte and Laura Facey. The special tributes to Alexander Cooper and Peter Dean Rickards will also be shown here.

Devon House, a Victorian-era, plantation-style mansion, located just north of the New Kingston business district, was built in 1881 by George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire. The work chosen for Devon House intervenes into the space and context of the house. Artists exhibiting at Devon House are Laura Facey, Andrea Chung, Deborah Anzinger, Leasho Johnson, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan and Sharon Norwood. The National Gallery West, the National Gallery’s Montego Bay branch, housed in a restored Georgian courthouse on Sam Sharpe Square, will feature the David Gumbs’ installation Xing-Wang, an interactive, sound activated 5 channel video installation in the gallery space. The project’s outdoor component will be activated during Easter Weekend.

Special Project Invitees (Caribbean Artists)

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons – Cuban born, resident in the USA

Andrea Chung – Jamaican heritage, born in USA

David Gumbs – born and resident in St Martin

Nadia Huggins – born in St Vincent, resident in Trinidad and Tobago

Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow – born Jamaica, resident in USA

Raquel Paiewonsky – born Dominican Republic

Marcel Pinas – born Surinam

Special Tributes (Local Artists):

Alexander Cooper

Peter Dean Rickards

Invited Artists (Local)

1. David Boxer

2. Hope Brooks

3. Margaret Chen

4. Carol Crichton

5. Rex Dixon

6. Michael Elliott

7. Laura Facey

8. Marlon James

9. Rafiki Kariuki

10. Amy Laskin

11. K. Khalfani Ra

12. Amy Laskin

13. Prudence Lovell

14. Judy Ann MacMillan

15. Franz Marzouca

16. Bryan McFarlane

17. Jag Mehta

18. Els Meijns

19. Petrona Morrison

20. Winston Patrick

21. Omari Ra

22. Keith ‘Uhuru’ Reece

23. Norma Rodney-Harrack

24. Oneika Russell

25. Judith Salmon

26. Storm Saulter

27. Stafford Schlieffer

28. Tina Spiro

29. Phillip Supersad

30. Heather Sutherland Wade

31. Samere Tansley

32. Phillip Thomas

33. Jasmine Thomas-Girvan

34. Raymond Watson

35. Donnette Zacca

Juried Artists (Local)

1. Deborah Anzinger

2. Greg Bailey

3. Kid Bazzle

4. Kimani Beckford

5. Aisha Bell

6. Simon Benjamin

7. Claudia Beyer

8. Jacqueline Bishop

9. Venise Black

10. Alicia Brown

11. Camille Chedda

12. Stefan Clarke

13. Katrina Coombs

14. Nathan Cunningham

15. Paula Daley

16. Di-Andre Caprice Davis

17. Nichola Feldman-kiss

18. Shediene Fletcher

19. The Girl and the Magpie

20. Jenny Gordon

21. Jeffery Grant

22. Ziggie Graver

23. Xayvier Haughton

24. Rachel Henriques

25. Christopher Irons

26. Andy Jefferson

27. Derval Johnson

28. Leasho Johnson

29. Steve Jones

30. Ramon Knight (aka Baby Mango Friend)

31. Christopher Lawrence

32. Kelley-Ann Lindo

33. Berette Macaulay

34. Carol-Anne McFarlane

35. Olivia McGilchrist

36. Rachael Minott

37. Oliver Myrie

38. Richard Nattoo

39. Sharon Norwood

40. Nicholas Rose

41. Twaunii Sinclair

42. Tiffany Smith

43. Kamar Thomas

44. Sharon Virtue

45. Troydel Wallace

46. Maria Karla Watson Falcon

47. Shoshanna Weinberger

48. Cosmo Whyte

49. Anji Worton

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