Limiting the biennial to the first floor of the National Gallery was a lost opportunity to position artworks in response to the country’s social vibrations.
This year’s biennial was a mash-up of claims and interests that played out in four exhibitions grouped under one umbrella.
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Not too long ago, Jamaica’s tourism-promotion board hired some advertising wizards to cook up a clever slogan to help sell the island’s sunny, Caribbean charms to vacationers from North America. They came up with “We’re more than a beach. We’re a country.”
Washington, DC — “Dub poet Mutabaruka found it necessary to argue, in a public contribution on the subject, that the statue [Emancipation Monument], which represents a woman and a man, both nude standing in a pool of water and looking upward as a symbolic representation of the spiritual emancipation from Slavery, was ‘gay’ because the male figure did not respond sexually to the presence of the naked female figure.” explains Veerle Poupeye, Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica.
BERN, SWITZERLAND — This has been a week of blunders. At an art conference in Switzerland a debate began amongst fellow participants about the content of a drawing, which could either be considered bad taste or ironic. The conversation expanded to talk about politics in South Africa, more specifically the demographics of voting, which resulted in the comment “but most of the people who voted for that political party were non-white”. What had been intended from the speaker was to say, “not white.” This may appear as a minor letter error however this discrepancy is critical.
In Kingston, Jamaica, making artwork that explores LGBT-related issues is becoming increasingly more accepted, however it still has the potential to be life threatening.