Christina Leslie's Portraits

N.L.S., A New Local Space

Deborah Caroll Anzinger's artist run residency and exhibition space in Kingston


Leasho Johnson's Provocative Re-interpretation in 'Canopy Guild'

Light Sensitive

Marlon James' black and whites

Annalee Davis: ON THE MAP

Caribbean Political Documentary

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Perverseness, Painting and Dante's Inferno:Interview with Marvin Bartley

This was a very bold thing for yourself and Camille Chedda to enter the National Biennial while still students. What were reactions to to this?
Well the reactions were varied but the underlying issues that aroused from the reactions of friends was that we should go for it, we all had our doubts and inhibitions as to whether or not we would get in. However it was generally all good.

You started off painting images on canvas but now you use digital photography, why the switch and how was it recieved?
Let me start by saying its acceptance was not great at all because of the value systems that people around me are used to. Example your expected to paint in a painting department so anything contrary such the photographs i now produce is unacceptable, i was even advised by many to paint the images that i produced through my photomanipulated processes. The images for them never really seemed complete in their photogrphic state. The reason why i switched media was the fact that my photograps were way more developed for my ideas that my classical painting methods ever were. Also it was for me a way of callenging the value system that has been set up by the society with regards to the value of painting over that of photographs and finally to engage myself in a much newer medium than paint.

You mentioned deriving some of your imagery from classic European artistic sources such as Dante's Inferno. How did you, as a young Caribbean art student, become attached to these sources?
Thats something i myself would like to know the answer for. Just kidding. I became very interested in classical imagery and literature in 2003 after seeing works from contemporary realist painters Philip Thomas and Andre Green who were just leaving and preparing to leave the college. There works dealth in a serious way with the classical techniques. Ive always had great respect for formalism and thats why i chose to look at classical references for my inspiration being that classical art is the backbone of formalism.

How do you feel your work which is now digital, sits within the kind of academic representational painterly tradition that has been coming out of the art school in the last few years? I am referencing of course young male artists such as Khary Darby, Phillip Thomas and Andrae Green.
Well I first of all think that it sits quite fine among their works with respect to the contemperary treatment of the image however it sits alone with respect to the process and finish. Khary, Phillip and Andrae all to me challenge simillar technical and formal issues that men have struggled for centuaries with, now i questioned myself as to why i would want to do te same thing when i have new media that i can challenge to gain new ways and approaches, so for me photo-manipultion is my main stay. Rest assured i have not abandoned painting with paint.

Being the first Edna Manley college student expected to mount a final year show wholly in digital prints, how do you think you will be recieved by the major collectors of representational paintings?
I wont try to predict responces but i can say this you'll all have one big surprise when you see what i now have.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Biennial 07: Invitation to Discuss

This biennial is a particularly important exhibition for various reasons. It stands out as being one of the first years where on can think of a set of artists being shown who utilise digital media and processes. Renee Cox, controversial New York-based artist is exhibiting several photographs and students from Edna Manley College are exhibiting alongside seasoned practitioners. There are many more questions that could be asked and discussed in response to the Biennial and I invite you to do so here. It is remarkable also that I have not seen as much publicity for such an immense exhibition. Which artists stood out for you? What does a show like this say about Jamaican culture and its industries? How does this show affect audiences? etc.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Black scandal bag: Camille Chedda speaks about her work

Where does working with the black scandal bag come from?
It started in my third year where I was using images of my face to create works about how we (or just myself) mask our identities as Jamaicans. It was also about being unable to speak and being trapped. I decided to use the black scandal bag because it garnered many interpretations based on its everyday uses. It contains, and I was containing my words. It covers, and I was hiding my ugliness, my truth, my identity. It protects, I was being shielded from people's words, abuse, pressure etc. It preserves and I was trying to preserve my sanity.

How do you connect the use of this material/object to references from your ownbackground(race, class, identity, experience) as well as Jamaican culture, society and politics? The bag has many uses among Jamaicans. People buy groceries and the items are placed in these bags. Some people use it to protect themselves and objects from getting wet. It acts as an agent that protects while being a very dangerous material. As children we are warned not to put our heads in scandal bags because we could suffocate. There are many stories of babies being found in scandal bags after being disposed of by their mothers. Murderers wrap their victims' bodies in garbage bags. Weed, guns and bullets are other things found in these bags. There is also the saying that some women should bag their heads because they're unattractive (facially). These are some of the things that have influenced my work.

How do you feel about your work being shown in the Biennial due to controversial issues that have been spoken about in various articles and reports as well as the fact that you are still a student?
t seems like people are questioning if my work is 'art', because of the materials I use. I didn't know how people would react to it because I never thought of it as controversial. This is the first time Marvin and I are exhibiting works in the National Gallery. It's an achievement for me to know that we're in an exhibition with other great Jamaican artists and we're still studying.

How does something like digital media/video become a part of your Black Scandal bag work?
I needed another outlet that painting and photographs wouldn't allow. I think the video communicated my feelings best because it was straight forward, something I couldn't achieve with any other medium.

Lastly, what ideas and artists do you associate yourself with?
I did some research on scandal/garbage bags. Surprisingly though, I didn't know about the Abu Ghraib situation until I saw it in your(Oneika Russell) solo exhibition! I knew that people were being tortured but had never seen the images. That added more context to my work. I had been dealing with the body, so I looked at Ana Mendieta and Kiki Smith's work and how they understood the body. I also used Marcus Garvey's words, writings on the body, transatlantic slavery, newspaper articles, and relations with my peers, family and people in society as some references for my works.