Thursday, 27 November 2014

BREAKING GROUND: The Jamaica Biennial 2014 promises non-stop action

LIFE FORCE: Shoshanna Weinberger's "Collection of Strangefruit," from the 2012 exhibition.

When the Jamaica Biennial blockbuster art exhibition has its grand opening in December, the National Gallery of Jamaica won't be the only venue hosting the displays and the large crowds. Instead, a total of three venues, spread across the island, are doing the honours this year the Downtown Kingston-based gallery, of course, the uptown landmark Devon House and the new-kid-on-the-block National Gallery West, located inside the Montego Bay Civic Centre, smack in the heart of Sam Sharp Square.

For us, the exhibition's move uptown and into the West is a clear indication of the gallery's commitment to breaking new ground and spreading the dynamic energy while maintaining aspects of the established framework in support of the best that local art production has to offer. TALLAWAH dropped in on the crew at the National Gallery on Wednesday afternoon, and while we didn't score any exclusive deets on the highly anticipated show, we were more than pleased to see that preparations have slipped into high gear.

Arguably one of the biggest art-based events in the English-speaking Caribbean, the Biennial brings together a host of outstanding Jamaican artists, based at home and abroad, whose exemplary craftmanship and fascinating ways of seeing never fail to astonish and inspire. In fact, December's bounty is so chock-full of highlights that the show is being split into three distinct sections representing the broad spectrum of Jamaican art, as well as important works from the region, the Diaspora and relevant talents from the wider art world.

"Legacies" will display work by senior Jamaican artists and by those (whether juried or invited) who tend to work in more traditional methods. "New Ground" will be an exhibition of contemporary Jamaican art from both established and emerging voices. Most interesting, "Special Projects" will feature a series of smaller self-contained exhibits by specially invited regional and international artists, as well as from the calls for proposals for the National Gallery West. All participating artists, invited or juried, are eligible to win the prestigious Aaron Matalon Award (Laura Facey Cooper is a past recipient) — a monetary prize that also comes with a uniquely designed medal.

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 will open to the public on December 7. The opening reception is slated for December 14. 

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