Nari Ward - Domino Men
In their celebration of half of a century Jamaican Independence, Nottingham’s New Art Exchange concludes their two-part exhibition on Caribbean culture, ‘I Is AnOther’. In this chapter NAE indulge us with set of wholeheartedly more divisive and aggressive works that open as many eyes as they catch.
I say aggressive because as you enter the gallery, the first thing you’ll notice is a Banksy original lying in plain sight smashed to pieces.
The story behind the destruction goes something like this.
When Banksy visited Jamaica back in 2004 it was decided the man to show him around the place was photographer, filmmaker and artist Peter Dean Rickards.
Soon after discovering that they pretty much couldn’t stand each other (Rickard later describing Banksy as a ‘ rude little guy with rat teeth who apparently felt very superior because he was famous for stencilling bunnies and rats back in London.’), Rickards started selling photographs of Banksy to the newspapers, destroying his anonymity.
Rickards wasn’t finished there though.
He went to a bar in Kingston where Banksy had created a version of his now ‘Balloon Girl’ and assembled a crack-team of removal men (apparently paid half in cash, half in white rum) whom he told, “That was done by a guy in the UK named Banksy, the white people love him there and he sells stuff like that for thousands of pounds – let’s cut it down!”
And so the work now lies in Hyson Green, shattered amongst a tractor tire, a job lot of broken computer parts, empty bottles of white rum, a burnt-out gas canister and other emblems of decay and decline while a video of the artwork’s removal is projected on the wall above.
‘The Afflicted Yard’ is Rickard’s illustration of the comedy of a group of people removing a wall graffiti’d by an artist who they have never heard of, motivated by what they have been told is its value in the art world. While it might not be the ostentatious display of Caribbean art that you might have expected, the story behind bears an apt portrait of the uneasiness shown by some Jamaican communities that continues to exist towards others imposing their will and ideas upon theirs. Of course, a defaced Banksy is by no means the only thing I Is AnOther has to offer.
On the other side of the main gallery lies Nari Ward’s ‘Domino Men’, also featured in part one of the exhibition, with the effect of the giant dominoes having seemingly caused the fall of one another provoking thoughts of change and the absorption of cultures.
Nearby hang several of Birmingham-born Hurvin Anderson’s paintings, with ‘Country Club Series: Chicken Wire’ showing a picturesque tennis court fenced off to the viewer and highlighting his sense of ‘belonging and not belonging’ as the child of Jamaican immigrants in the 80’s.
Ebony, G. Patterson, Of 72 Project, 2012
Mixed Media on Embellished Bandanas
Away from this all in the mezzanine gallery sits a tranquil yet angry Ebony G. Patterson work, ‘Packaged Rites’, featuring 73 cloths bearing the faces of the 73 people killed by Jamaican forces during protests in Tivoli Gardens in 2010.
The faces of the dead are obscured to make them appear as outlaws, sitting uncomfortably against the vibrant colours of the cloths while a series of personal questions about the dead emphasise the political message and injustice of the events.
It was no small feat attempting to bring together such a wide and sensitive topic as Jamaican identity I Is AnOther’s superb reflection of the last 50 years of evolution since the end of colonialism has been handled with taste, humour and intelligence. This final part of the gallery’s tribute to the island’s history is a respectful, enlightening and bright discussion that doesn’t tip the cup too far into furrow-browed debate nor does it ignore the pain that’s been suffered along the way.
New Art Exchange
I is AnOther runs until December 8.
Photography credits for Nari Ward - Batosz Kali