Smith & Benjamin’s ‘BAHAMIAN ART & CULTURE’ Issue No. 313 Sharing Art & Cultural News of The Bahamas for 17 Years • • • • CLICK HERE to see onli


Smith & Benjamin’s
Issue No. 313

Sharing Art & Cultural News
of The Bahamas for 17 Years

• • • •

CLICK HERE to see online version.

• • • •

This painting by Bahamian artist Gabrielle Banks is part of the
exhibition “The Mark of a Woman” which opens tonight at 6pm
at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.


Thursday, June 22, 2017


what’s happening in
bahamian art & culture

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E X H I B I T I O N :

UB Visual Arts 2017 Grad Show

Thursday, June 22nd
Starts 5pm
Hillside House
Art Gallery

The University of The Bahamas Visual Arts Department is pleased to host its inaugural graduate exhibition on Thursday, June 22nd from 5pm at Hillside House. UB’s “Grad Show 2017” will present work by six of the university’s first art and art education graduates. The collection includes a variety of painting, photography, printmaking and mixed media pieces from their senior year.

The show is a ‘one day only event’ and is free and open to the public for viewing with an opening reception from 6-8 pm. Participating graduates include Schuylar Cheng, Kiana Christie, Moriah Lightbourn, Spurgeonique Morley, Christopher Outten and Nowé Harris-Smith.

CLICK HERE for exhibition’s event page.


E X H I B I T I O N :

Gabrielle Banks: The Mark of a Woman

OPENS TONIGHT: Thursday, June 22nd | Starts 6pm
National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

GabrielleBanks ArtistTalk Sq r3

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is proud to introduce emerging Bahamian artist and acclaimed RISD student Gabrielle Banks’ body of work ‘The Mark of a Woman’ in the Project Space Room through the end of July.

The opening preview reception opens tonight, Thursday, June 22nd, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served at the event. Come out and celebrate one of The Bahamas’ most exciting emerging artists.

“The Mark of a Woman” is Banks’ first solo show in The Bahamas and will be on exhibit until July 30, 2017.

See full story below in Art & Culture News.

CLICK HERE for event Facebook page.


F I L M :

NAGB Film Series presents: “Black Narcissus” (1947)

June 22

Tonight, Thursday, June 22nd at 8pm, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas will present Black Narcissus, the story of a group of nuns who struggle to establish a convent in the Himalayas. Temptation comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but never has it been illustrated so dramatically as was the case with this 1947 Oscar winning film.

For Bahamians, it’s an opportunity to screen a classic movie and ponder the question of what happens when one's religious beliefs conflict with personal desire. The film is an explosive work about the conflict between the spirit and the flesh.

The screening is free and open to the public. We will have popcorn on hand for sale. Come out and spend this wonderful summer evening with us.

CLICK HERE for film’s Facebook page.


C O N C E R T :

Bahamas National Youth Choir’s Encore Performance

Saturday, June 24th
At 7:30pm
Parish Hall of St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, Lyford Cay

The Bahamas National Youth Choir (BNYC) is preparing for its yearly international tour and will host a one-night-only repeat performance of its 27th Annual concert season on June 24th 2017. A Silent Auction takes place before the concert at 7:30pm in the Parish Hall of St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, Lyford Cay.

This concert is not to be missed and the public is encouraged to come out and support our youth who are dedicating their lives and talents to inspire positivity among our young people as they proudly represent The Bahamas and its culture in the international arena each and every year. This event is guaranteed to entertain, captivate and thrill the hearts of music lovers and theatrical enthusiasts.

The repertoire includes performances from popular Broadway musicals like The Wiz and the award nominated theatre classic, Porgy & Bess. Patrons will also be mesmerized by classical & spiritual arrangements from a variety of composers, which include favorites like Dan Forrest, the late Jack Halloran and the Grammy Award winning composer René Clausen. This highly anticipated concert, also features an array of popular Bahamian folk songs, African musical arrangements and much more.

Tickets are $35. Please call 393-3728 to reserve tickets.

CLICK HERE to visit the Choir’s Facebook page.


J A Z Z :

Jazz & Cocktails

This Sunday, June 25th
Balmoral Club, Sandford Drive

For those who fear the permanence and sustainability of Jazz music, this Sunday's Jazz & Cocktails show at the Balmoral Club on Sandford Drive will undoubtedly silence those concerns!

This Sunday, we feature for the first time at Jazz & Cocktails, 4 spellbinding female voices — new to the local Jazz circuit....Ebony Johnson, Mericha Walker, Camica Rolle and Cherelle Cartwright. Four absolutely outstanding voices! Each voice is extraordinarily unique, boasting vast but distinct musical backgrounds that have influenced each of their individual styles. You will find these talented vocalists entirely captivating!

This Sunday will be an unusual treat and a coveted event, which you are sure to thoroughly enjoy!

Reservations are suggested. Please email: or call 302-4230. Cover: $25, includes a complimentary drink and valet services.

BIFF Screenwritng workshop

BIFF Storyteller & Screenplay Weekend Workshop

Friday, June 30–Sunday, July 2

The Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) is hosting a weekend workshop with writers in an intimate group gathering to write your screenplay. The workshop will help you develop your screenplay’s genre and loglines, scenes and transitions, characters and dialogue. The times are as follows: Friday, June 30, from 5:30pm to 9:30pm; Saturday, July 1st from 10am to 5pm; and Sunday, July 2 from 1pm to 5pm. The cost is $75.00.

For venue information and to register, please call (242) 698-1800.

CLICK HERE for more information.
CLICK HERE for the BIFF Facebook page.


art & culture news
from the bahamas

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Painting by Gabrielle Banks from the NAGB exhibition "The Mark of a Woman".

New exhibition at NAGB features the mark of a woman

Tonight, Thursday, June 22nd starting at 6 p.m., the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas will open a new exhibition of work by emerging Bahamian artist and acclaimed RISD student Gabrielle Banks’ body of work ‘The Mark of a Woman’ in the Project Space Room through the end of July.

Over the past two years, Banks has explored the various ways the representation of the black subject, and in particular, the black woman has been appropriated in an attempt to shed light on the way that she remains invisible, neglected and removed from the canon of Western Art. Even though this is changing slowly within the contemporary visual art world with the rise of artists like Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Chris Ofili and Toyin Odutola among others, the black woman continues to be fetishized, commodified and her image misappropriated and reduced to an icon of strength, hypersexualisation, and entertainment. Banks’ images combat and add to the growing bodies of work that attack these tropes. Her subjects are mainly appropriated from the work of white artists and alterations are made to the figures’ gender and features to bring a fairer representation to the fore of the black body and its significance in the emerging canon of contemporary art.

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Painting by Gabrielle Banks from the NAGB exhibition "The Mark of a Woman".

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Painting by Gabrielle Banks from the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas exhibition "The Mark of a Woman".

Banks’ canvas, which reaches into the annals of art history, uses classic compositions from the Western Canon and the contemporary environment, utilising Greek sculpture, contemporary photography and classical and contemporary painters the likes of Tchistovsky, Wiley, Fechin, and Rego to reassess the perception of the woman. In her nudes, the availability of her subject and self, contest the representation of the woman, redefining her power, availability, and surrender. With several self-portraits, we can see power returned to the gaze, to how the body is rendered in the landscape and how her subjects hold strong in their personas, wisdom, heritage, and history. Colour and form remove associations of blackness, rendering black skin a colour field laced with ambiguity, which is directly related to Banks’ mixed race heritage.

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"Untitled (Odd Nerdrum)" by Gabrielle Banks from the NAGB exhibition "The Mark of a Woman".

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Painting by Gabrielle Banks from the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas exhibition "The Mark of a Woman".

In the only black and white piece in the budding collection, Untitled (Odd Nerdrum), the classic reclining nudes are replaced with portraits of the artist who covers her breasts with palms and stares coldly into space while her body is being submerged into a frenzied Afrocentric pattern. This symbolism of the artist sinking into black and white speaks to the tension when faced with the duality of being a biracial subject, where she at once owns blackness but attempts to bring light to the complexity and ambiguities present in a society where belonging and identification are not so easy or so black and white.

Colourism is a fundamental conversation in this body of work, where Banks strips the subject of blackness, replacing it with psychedelic and wild colours - a royal purple and blue, or speckled orange and burnt red. These caustic and loud colours lend to the noise that completes how Blackness is formed and read, blurring the lines and associations located in shadeism and the paper bag complex. Who is Black, and what kind of Black does one have to be to be Black? The question of what then constitutes Blackness is one that continues to be examined in our societies as we pay testament to our African and European heritage and the way that miscegenation and creolization have shaped our societies and cultural identity.


Bahamian artist Gabrielle Banks.


Gabrielle Banks is currently acquiring a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting with a concentration in Art History at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. Banks graduated from Miss Porter’s School, Farmington, Connecticut in 2015 and mainly specializes in portraiture, but has recently been exploring textiles and patterns within her growing body of work. The Bahamas has undoubtedly influenced the technique and subject matter of her work, ranging from distinct color palettes and compositions inspired by the landscapes and ceremonial traditions of the nation and cultural vibrancy of the island.

Banks actively comments and interrogates being a marginalized body and this functions as the continuous theme and conversation within her paintings. Many of the colors used in her palette express a nature of blackness that cannot be directly defined or restricted by societal standards and stereotypes. As a person of colour, she explores a complicated yet beautiful minefield which is provocative, rich and complex.

CLICK HERE for exhibition page at the NAGB site.

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Cleophas Adderley Jr., the 5th Aliv Bahamian Icon Awards Lifetime Achievement honoree.

Lifetime achievement awardee is the man behind the Bahamas National Youth Choir

by Shavaughn Moss

Mention the name Cleophas Adderley Jr. and most people think Bahamas National Youth Choir (BNYC) — and while Adderley himself says it’s difficult to separate one from the other — he’s so much more. He’s a person who loves life, loves God, and loves people. And he lets you know that he loves academic and intellectual challenges as well as music.

And this is the man who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 5th Aliv Bahamian Icon Awards held at the Melia Nassau Beach resort, and broadcasted live on Our TV on Saturday past.

For Adderley, in his early 60s, music is the blossoming of a person’s soul. He says it is life … joy … and development. “Music means a tremendous amount to me, and is also a way of reaching out to other people and creating harmony,” said Adderley, who studied orchestration and tutored as a private student of Nancy Patterson-Strelau at the University of Miami in Florida, and studied orchestral conducting as a private student of Harold Glickman of New York. [...]

CLICK HERE to read full article in The Nassau Guardian.

Sonia Farmer

Bahamian artist Sonia Farmer

Bahamian artist and writer develops podcast at the University of Iowa

This summer, the Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio at the University of Iowa (UI) will pilot a new fellowship programme featuring nine current UI graduate students who have been named Summer Studio Fellows. One of those students is Bahamian writer, artist and chap-book publisher Sonia Farmer.

Farmer will take part in an 8-week course that provides mentored digital scholarship experience, as well as training in skills and tools they might use as they pursue innovative ways of thinking about and sharing their creative endeavors.

Sonia Farmer, currently a MFA student at the Center for the Book at UI, plans to launch a podcast that shares the rich world of Caribbean literature. The podcast will provide Caribbean writers with a platform to share their writing and grant people easy access to a multitude of voices, in addition to honing her digital editing skills and developing the platform.

CLICK HERE for full article at University of Iowa Libraries blog.


Scotiabank launches 2018 ‘Exceptional Moments’ photography competition

Submission Dates: Opens June 26th / Closes July 24th


Detail of 2017 winning entry "Discarded Toss" by Shanteena Simms.

Scotiabank’s annual calendar photography competition returns under a new theme for the 2018 edition. Dubbed the “Exceptional Moments” Calendar Photo Contest, Scotiabank is inviting the public to submit images that capture the extraordinary. The contest is open to both novice and experienced photographers and will include weighted judging criteria and a three-person judging panel.

“This year we want photos that capture the unique nuances of The Bahama Islands. We’re not just looking for a pretty picture, we want to see the extraordinary. This can be achieved by the way a moment is captured, as well as the subject being photographed. From a thunderstorm rolling in to swimming pigs. The photographers really have an opportunity to showcase awe-inspiring work,” commented Nakera Symonette, Senior Manager of Marketing and Public Relations at Scotiabank.


For added convenience to entrants, the contest will be hosted online this year. Photos can be uploaded via the competition website and the entry form will be completed online at the same time. Photographers will be allowed to enter up to three different images into the contest for consideration. Selected images will be featured in the 2018 Scotiabank calendar and photographers will be awarded up to $600.

Having previously partnered with professional photographers and the University of The Bahamas Visual Arts Department, the Scotiabank calendar has a history of stellar images. Scotiabank encourages anyone with an eye for great pictures to submit an entry. Qualifying photographs must be taken in The Bahamas, be in landscape orientation and the entrant must have a copy of the image with a minimum 300dpi resolution, in JPG format. The competition opens on June 26, 2017 and will close on July 24, 2017.

CLICK HERE for full contest rules and judging criteria.


Still from “Temporary Horizon” (2010), a video work by Heino Schmid and featured in the current Permanent Exhibition, “Revisiting An Eye For the Tropics”.

Balancing act

Heino Schmid’s “Temporary Horizon” (2010)

by Natalie Willis

Heino Schmid’s practice can perhaps be described as slippery or amphibious – and it’s not so much to do with the water, as it is to do with his fluidity in dealing with the bounds of what we believe to constitute drawing, sculpture, painting as separate genres – the proverbial lines in his practice become blurred. This movement between the medium and the means is why “Temporary Horizon” (2010) was chosen for the current Permanent Exhibition, “Revisiting An Eye For the Tropics” on display at the NAGB.

“Temporary Horizon” (2010) is what initially appears to be a delightfully simple video work that shifts at one moment from performance – with the artist clad in a white shirt and jeans (a sort of uniform of modernity for many of us) as he attempts to place the bottom of a Kalik bottle on the neck of another lying flat on the table. It then shifts to a still-life of sorts, as, almost impossibly or by magic, the bottles balance on top of each other and remain unmoving for what feels like eternity. Of course, nothing lasts forever, and the bottles eventually become re-animated and topple over before rolling off the table in the video. Schmid comments that “The image combines the use of common material and repetition to candidly examine the shifting tensions between action and inertia, balance and imbalance. The positioning of the two bottles, though fragile and ultimately unsustainable, evokes surprise through its temporary equilibrium, with a false horizon [of the water in the bottle] created as a byproduct of this balancing act.” [...]

CLICK HERE for full story at the NAGB.


Writer, scholar and professor Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett

Art, Culture and the World Trade Organization

Where are we going?

by Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett

In The Bahamas, there has been an ongoing discussion about lowering duty on art supplies and products in order to discourage the disenfranchisement of local artists by allowing cheap imitation art to be imported at a lower duty rate.

Free trade and membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is often discussed, but quickly it becomes clear that few people understand the complexity of the situation and regional governments have done little to help the public inform themselves. In fact, it would seem that up to now information has been intentionally opaque and even less has been shared than ought to have been. At the apex of talks about the WTO, the Ministry of Financial Services were leading all matters dealing with legislation and they had announced that an entire suite of laws would be forthcoming. What has happened since then?

The WTO agreement is in a number of parts, or sub-agreements, one being the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT); another being General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); and yet another being The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which is governed in concert with WIPO, yet another UN organization. The Bahamas has been infamous, especially at violating the latter, with the buying and selling of knocks-offs, infringing on copyright laws and agreements, and disregarding the need to protect its indigenous knowledge. To say the least, government agencies and ministries have been so blatant about breaking laws and international agreements that they have, themselves, bought fake goods meant to have originated in The Bahamas but that are made of inferior material and incompetently to boot. Meanwhile, the businesses in the local economy that would have spent capital creating these goods have been undermined, as has been demonstrated in this column on other occasions. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at the NAGB website.

Michael Edwards Untitled

“Untitled II” (2000), Michael Edwards, monoprint on museum board, 85” x 32”. Part of the National Collection, acquired from the Inaugural National Exhibition. (Image courtesy of the NAGB.)

From the National
Art Collection
of The Bahamas:

Michael Edwards: “Untitled II”

by Natascha Vazquez

The interpretation of abstract art entails an inventiveness that allows you to discover for yourself the meaning behind the work. It’s an organic process, it has no equation or set of rules – the art presents itself and you are left with little information to process it. For many, this is unsettling. As humans, we yearn for understanding – we desire clear, detailed instruction. Abstract art provides none of that.

Revolutionary colour field painter Mark Rothko says, “Art that truly engages us is felt even when you have turned your back on it.” There’s something really special about that – about feeling the sensation of a work beyond its physicality. It’s when you can feel the strength of the painting from across the room. You can stand in the space the artist once occupied and imagine him or her in that same spot, debating over the next smear of black or red pour or blue dot. Similarly, Jerry Saltz says, “Abstraction disenchants, re-enchants, detoxifies, destabilises, resists closure, slows perception, and increases our grasp of the world.”

Bahamian artist and educator Michael Edwards presents us with “Untitled II,” a monotype that employs the techniques of painting, silk screening and embossing to create a non-objective mixture of intentionally placed colour, line, texture, and pattern. Edwards brilliantly captivates the language of painting in this work, exploring the way in which a mark can exist and how it changes when paired with colours or textures or gradients. How does a translucent red transform when placed next to a deep black or on top of a blue and yellow pattern? Can a sense of unity still be achieved within the diversity of this work through a commonly-shared direction? Although there is great diversity within the work, it follows a vertical orientation, flowing from top to bottom. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at the NAGB.

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Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis visited the Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation, greeted and chatted with some of the staff. The corporation falls under the authority of the Office of the Prime Minister. (Photo/OPM Media Services)

Prime Minister visits Antiquities, Monuments,
and Museum Corporation

by Matt Maura

The construction and/or renovation of a National Museum of The Bahamas has tremendous potential in terms of not only preserving the country’s history for future generations of Bahamians, but also in generating job and wealth creation opportunities for Bahamians of all walks of life, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said Wednesday.

Just last week, the Prime Minister proposed the construction of a National Museum of The Bahamas not only for the benefit of Bahamians, but also as a heritage experience for tourists. The Prime Minister said the construction of a National Museum of The Bahamas would reap great dividends for the country.

On Wednesday (June 21), Prime Minister Minnis said whether the National Museum of The Bahamas will be constructed as a free-standing facility or through the renovation of existing space at “Centreville” (where the Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation is currently located in the old Ministry of Education Headquarters Compound on Shirley Street and Collins Avenue) is a matter that will be up for discussion with officials at the Corporation which is headed by Dr. Keith Tinker, Ph.D., Director of the National Museum of The Bahamas, the Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation (AMMC). [...]

CLICK HERE for full story at The Bahamas Weekly.


art from the region
and beyond

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Brittany Robinson during the height of her bleaching days... (Photo: Marlon James)

Why black women in a predominately black culture are still bleaching their skin

Investigating deep-rooted ideals in Jamaica. “When you black in Jamaica, nobody see you.”

by Rebekah Kebede, Photographs by Marlon James

Outside her ground-floor apartment in Kingston, hairstylist Jody Cooper sits on the bright blue bench that serves as her makeshift salon. The 22-year-old native Jamaican is flipping through photographs of herself—there she is a few years ago in a studded monokini, with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyeshadow, her skin several shades lighter than it is now.

Cooper doesn’t remember making a conscious choice to bleach her skin. Growing up, everyone around her was doing it—her school friends, her mom, her aunt. So she did it too. For nine years, she rubbed creams on her face and body, covering up with tights and long sleeves that she believed would make the bleach work better. Her goal was to transform into what Jamaicans call a “browning”: a lighter-skinned black person.

As a browning, Cooper turned heads. “It’s nice when the guys call after you saying, ‘Browning!’ and you know you born black,’ she says, laughing. She loved the attention; she loved fooling people into thinking [...]

CLICK HERE for full article in Marie Claire.


Dismantling colonial fantasies
about Puerto Rico

In Shey Rivera Ríos’ new installation, the island “miracle” that’s marketed to mainland American consumers is simulated and détourned.

by Jasmine Dreame Wagner


Shey Rivera Ríos, “Promesa777”

An orchestra soars over the soft-focus aerial view of waves rolling along the shore of a tropical island. At the first sight of a small aircraft streaming beyond the palm fronds, Hervé Villechaize, playing Tattoo, Fantasy Island’s indigenous sidekick, rings a bell in a white tower. “The plane! The plane!” he calls to Ricardo Montalbán. Wearing a white suit and black tie, Montalbán holds court as Mr. Roarke, the island’s overseer, who taps his wristwatch in the doorway of an ornate white lodge and says to Tattoo, “Our guests are arriving on time, to the second.” Tattoo responds, “They always do, and you always act like it’s a miracle.” “My dear Tattoo,” says Roarke, “when each guest is paying $50,000 for a three-day stay on Fantasy Island, he or she deserves miracles.” Tattoo nods and says, “Aye, boss.” And so the television show’s opening theme repeated each Friday night from 1977 to 1984.

Fantasy Island went off the air a few years before I discovered the advertising portfolio in the back pages of the New York Times Magazine, where real estate promised a separate peace: grids of sky blue windows; expanses of white carpet studded with glass tables, no tumblers or mugs to spill; stone patios marked with mirrored pools, all for sale. The dwellings in the advertisements were impossibly expensive — they cost numbers higher than I’d ever counted — but, in my child’s mind, they seemed attainable. My favorite advertisement featured an aerial view of a luxury hotel’s nodal network of swimming environments: triangular and rhomboid pools connected by waterways and fed by waterfalls — a circuitous and continuously flowing system. Paradise uncorrupted. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at Hyperallergic.


Khadija Saye's "Peitaw" (2017), from the series "Dwelling: in this space we breathe" on show in the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (Image: © Khadija Saye)

In pictures: the ‘remarkable, powerful’ works of artist who died in Grenfell Tower blaze

Photographer’s works praised at this year’s Venice Biennale and a print is due to be displayed at Tate Britain as a tribute.

by Anny Shaw

Artists, critics and museum directors have been hailing the work of Khadija Saye, the 24-year-old photographer who died with her mother Mary Mendy in the Grenfell Tower fire in West London last week. Saye’s work is currently on show in the Diaspora Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in a presentation curated by David A. Bailey featuring emerging artists from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The art critic Waldemar Januszczak described Saye’s wet collodion tintypes exploring the migration of traditional Gambian spiritual practices as “standing out across the entire Venice Biennale”. He added: “It was some of the most moving work there.” Januszczak called on Maria Balshaw, the new director of the Tate, to display her work.

Nicola Green, the wife of the Labour MP David Lammy and a portrait painter who mentored Saye, said the young artist was on the cusp of great things. “In the last few weeks she had been invited to show in all kinds of serious galleries, her dreams were actually beginning to manifest themselves in the most exciting way,” Green told the Guardian. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article in The Art Newspaper.

Related article:
Khadija Saye: Remembering the Artist through Her Photography

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Tracy K. Smith (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

Tracy K. Smith named U.S. Poet Laureate

The U.S. Library of Congress has selected Tracy K. Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and a professor at Princeton University, to be the twenty-second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2017–2018. Smith succeeds Juan Felipe Herrera, and will assume her responsibilities in the fall.

“Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.”

Smith is the author of three books of poetry, including “Life on Mars” (2011), winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; “Duende” (2007), winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award and the 2008 Essence Literary Award; and “The Body’s Question” (2003), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith also penned the memoir “Ordinary Light” (2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction and selected as a notable book by the New York Times and the Washington Post. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at Art Forum.


One of the pieces attributed to “Uncle Jimmy” Clemens, a collage titled “Magical Negroes,” in the gallery at Irondale Theatre for the play Master (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

When we crave the story more than the artist

The play Master invents an artist and reveals him to the audience through voicemail messages, eulogies, artifacts, and pieces of his magnum opus.

by Seph Rodney

A succession of 20th-century artists has conditioned audiences to value persona as much as, if not more than, an artist’s actual work. Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Tracey Emin come to mind. They and others like them, plus a supporting cast of writers and dealers, have promoted the notion that bits and pieces of remembered or invented lore — especially salacious and intimate details involving sexuality, romance, family relationships, drug or alcohol abuse — generate the artist’s status, alongside exhibitions and artwork. The play Master, written by W. David Hancock with artist Wardell Milan and now playing at Irondale Theatre Center, where it’s produced by the Foundry Theatre, implies that this development has reached an inflection point: now, if we are given the stories, the signs and traces of artistic output, we don’t really need the artist anymore.

Master dramatizes the current state of play in the art world (but the lessons carry over to other arenas of culture, like sports), demonstrating not just that we privilege the individual personality too much; rather, we don’t know how to look at art without leaning on that crutch. It makes this argument by completely inventing an artist, James Leroy “Uncle Jimmy” Clemens, and revealing him to the audience through the appurtenances of voicemail messages, eulogies, ceremonies, artifacts from the places he lived, and pieces of his magnum opus: “The Illuminated Twain,” a multifaceted, bricolage work that’s a response to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn undergirded by anger and bitterness. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at Hyperallergic.

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Solange Knowles, "An Ode To" (2017) at the Guggenheim. (Photo by @theybf_daily, via Instagram)

Can anything be performance art?

by Alice Bucknell

From Joseph Beuys cozying up with coyotes to Amalia Ulman pulling a Kardashian-grade Instagram takeover, “performance art” seems to only be limited by what its audience is willing to designate as such. Outside the conventional art world, the mantle of performance has been taken up by the famous (Solange’s much heralded Guggenheim takeover) and the infamous (the lawyer of alt-right misinformation king and Infowars founder Alex Jones attempting to offload his client’s on-air hate speech as an elaborate performance piece).

So how can you separate out the genuine from the inauthentic, and why does performance continue to straddle these boundaries? Is it the synchrony between our increasingly accelerated lifestyles and the ephemeral, reactive nature of performance art? Is it because the medium is particularly well-suited to the protest movements, urgency, and ambiguity framing our global politics? And how have new media and post-internet aesthetics redefined the look, feel, and political potential of performance art in the 21st century? [...]

CLICK HERE for full story at Artsy.

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Fernando Botero, "Naked Woman on the Chair - Sandalye üzerindeki çıplak kadın" (2013) (Anna Laudel)

Botero’s nude paintings are becoming icons of body positivity

by Alexxa Gotthardt

Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s subjects are big—many would call them fat. Across his canvases, figures gaze fondly at their bodies in the mirror, are swathed in bullfighting garb or floral dresses that hug their curves, or lie naked on the beach or in bed eating fruit. In all of these scenarios, they stand, lounge, and gaze at the viewer with pride.

In interviews about his work, Botero has maintained that he doesn’t consider his figures to be fat. “Nobody believes me but it is true,” he explained in a 2014 interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “What I paint are volumes.…I am interested in volume, the sensuality of form.”

Despite the artist’s motives, however, proponents of the body positive and fat acceptance movements (who are active on social media with hashtags like #bodypositive and #selflove) have adopted Botero’s paintings as emblems for their cause: to celebrate bodies of all sizes. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at Artsy.

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Installation view of “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight” at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2016. Photography by Ronald Amstutz, courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art.

Why old women have replaced young men as the art world’s darlings

Artists that have been “left out of the story”.

by Anna Louie Sussman

Alex Logsdail, international director of Lisson Gallery, remembers the first time his father encountered Carmen Herrera’s work. It was 2008, and the painter Tony Bechara had brought some of her canvases to London for the Pinta art fair. None of them sold, says Logsdail, but his father, Lisson Gallery founder Nicholas Logsdail, was smitten.

“We said, ‘Just leave them here,’” says Logsdail, referring to the unsold paintings. “It sort of seemed blindingly obvious that it needed to be shown, and it was filling a gap in history.”

Demand for older, female artists like Herrera, who was famously 89 when she sold her first artwork and is now a ripe 102, has risen sharply in recent years, the result of a perfect art-world storm. As institutions attempt to revise the art-historical canon, passionate dealers and curators see years of promotion come to fruition, and blue-chip galleries search for new artists to represent among those initially overlooked, prices and institutional recognition for artists such as Carol Rama, Irma Blank, Geta Brătescu, and Herrera have soared. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at Artsy.


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