A report from Jamaica’s Gleaner.
The December 2017 edition of Miami Art Week had over 100,000 visitors converging on the festivities and also saw Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean’s visual and performing arts platform, No Commission, back for the second time, under the theme ‘a celebration of Island Might’.
Helmed by Jamaica-born curatorial director Nicola Vassell, the showcase featured 30 artists from the United States and the Caribbean. There were also talks and performances highlighting issues concerning the creative economy and development of young artists in an increasingly diverse marketplace with nuanced systems of inclusion and meritocracy.
Founded by Dean, No Commission was created as a platform to allow visual artists the opportunity to exhibit and sell their art in a global environment directly to an audience of established and new collectors with no commissions or percentages of the sale taken from any sales.
“The Dean Collection and No Commission are two different things: the Dean Collection is my personal collection, a museum I want to create for my kids, so all the works that belong to the Dean Collection we never sell,” he said.
Dean added that the concept was something he wished to do himself and only reluctantly accepted corporate sponsorship once the rules of engagement with the artist remaining top priority remained intact.
“I came up with this whole idea, and I was going to build it out myself. Then Bacardi reached out and said they wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “Since then, we’ve given over $3 million dollars directly into artists’ pockets and got billions of impressions as we’ve travelled the world, and Nicola has been my partner laying this thing down.”
Dean admits that it was with some scepticism on the part of the existing gallery/artist system that his project came to fruition.
“Coming to Miami, we wanted to focus on that diasporic element with the islands,” said Vassell. “Effectively when we travel with No Commission, we try to talk to the city where we are coming to … we try to identify youth culture there and look at what the artists are communicating themselves and what they are focused on in that city.”
In partnership with Bacardi rum, No Commission has travelled to six cities in four countries. eight of the artists featured in Miami were from Jamaica: including RenÈe Cox, Ebony G Patterson, Leasho Johnson, Di Andre Caprice Davis, and Phillip Thomas.