NAGB Announces Open Call For NE7

By in News on May 30, 2014

For the past 11 years, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas has committed itself to fostering local artists who continue to push the frontiers and foundations of culture across the islands.

The institution assumes a critical role in the development of visual arts and a strong economy of thought and language that devotes itself to exchange, the shoring up of national identity, scholarship and education. This year’s National Exhibition 7 (NE7) will challenge Bahamian visual/creative practitioners both resident and afield to respond broadly to the dynamics of race and class.

“I start from the belief that Caribbeanness is a system full of noise and opacity, a nonlinear system, an unpredictable system, in short a chaotic system beyond the total reach of any specific kind of knowledge or interpretation of the world…” – Antonio Benitez-Rojo

Deadline for Submission of Proposals: July 15 2014.

The NE7 will have a symbiotic relationship with Blackness: A Comparative, Cross-National Investigation of Meaning and Significance, a conference initiated by Duke University being hosted at The College of The Bahamas. Complexities of the modern notions of Blackness, Whiteness, and the in between will be interrogated to consider how these markers have been manifested socially, politically, culturally and economically. We invite artists to investigate, within a broad disciplinary field and through various mediums, the impact and implications of the dynamic relationships that have been forged by the passage of time, and issues arising out of race, ethnicity and its contemporary discourse.

To do this, we look towards citizenship, migration, the landscape, collective traumas, slavery, Indentureship, trade, racial delineations, the hybrid and rhizome; we look at things that have shaped our identities. We consider the imagination, memory, language and mythologies and how they offer a critical space to intersect with stereotypes that are deeply ingrained in our social fabric about personal and public personas.

The Antillean/Antillanité, a context developed by the Martinican writer Édouard Glissant, embraces the multiracial and transracial culture of the Caribbean as syncretic. The Antillean is mammal; he or she is submarine, lying outside of the borders of a normative existence, embodying multiplicities, defying singularities and tangling with liminality – a mind and body that simultaneously occupies the center and periphery of never ending possibilities.

The Antillean works to reject classification, and on a mythology of crafting the hybrid and its meaning. Within this philosophy, race recoils and tumbles with the lost and indigenous, with the ramifications of the Middle Passage, with geographical currents that place The Bahamas at times on the outskirts of both the United States and the Caribbean, and on the fringe of an evolving neo-colonial paradigm.

Are we then ready to confront the contentious relationship that we have with race and ethnicity? What would that unearthing look like and is there room for counter narratives? How will these definitions of Blackness, Whiteness and the dynamic range in between, fit into the social diversity of the nation? What kind of shift will this bring about in our public and private relationships? What types of freedom, permission and possibilities would this engender?

The NE7 calls on visual and literary artists to engage with these complex ideas of self, and how they have been affected by social and racial codes, complex histories and global convergences that are seeking to determine representation and meaning.

Visit the NAGB website for more information.

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