NAGB’s National Exhibition 6: Kingdom Come
Belief systems tend to work best when they are isolated, uncontested by any other canon; this could be why religious scholar and philosopher Joseph Campbell, describes ‘The End’ as a kind of collision of once disparate ideologies.
This year’s edition of National Exhibition, “Kingdom Come,” provides 50 visual thinkers with a practical platform on which to collide with their vision of our present confusion or with hopeful projections of new beginnings. The NE6 aims to explore the challenges of ‘transition’ in modern times, in which we are brought abruptly closer together thanks to the spoils of electronic and social media platforms that connect every aspect of our existences.
With a click of the mouse, suddenly the other side of the world becomes the other side of the street and our secure notions of what constitutes life are challenged. We are bearing witness to the dynamics of an emerging global culture filled with beauty and wonder but juxtaposed with anxiety and the anticipation of a fast approaching, uncertain reality. The spiritual and emotional self is affected by the external realities of social, political, religious, and environmental upheaval. This calls to our attention the role we play in what is to come and just how we got here.
The modern Bahamas certainly does not fall outside the realm of concerns that this global conversation brings. The narratives of endings and beginnings, life and death, positive and negative, are by no means new but, somehow in their most basic forms, are still central to the core understanding of ourselves and the greater story that we fit into. Here, 50 sophisticated minds tell their stories, afforded the perfect opportunity to delve into a subject as complex and relevant as the apocalypse, understood as the destruction of life as we know it, a wiping clean of the slate, and the possibilities that may bring.
The responses to the invited artists fell into essentially five categories:
Knowing who we are makes us confident about who will become. The late Jackson Burnside often made reference to the West African symbol of the Sankofa bird, flying forward with its head looking back, illustrating knowledge of the past. Do we, as Bahamians, understand truly who we are today? Are we prepared to make peace with our past? Through large-format portrait photographs, Sabrina Lightbourne explores Bahamian diversity in her submission Who is Bahamian, a street work that brings into question our diversity and our own national acceptance.
Time creates a field of movement, as well as being a measure against which fixed ideas and philosophies can be assessed. In her floor-to-ceiling feather installation, Dede Brown explores the recurrence of ‘dramatic realignments’ and ‘rebirths’ and questions the expectation of a ‘perfect equilibrium.’ Sue Katz takes on a similar idea in her mixed media sculpture, depicting a modern angel, interpreted through a personal evolution of events in her life that endow her with her perspectives today.
SPIRITUALITY & BALANCE
Kendal Hanna and Toby Lunn both investigate the abyss of the universe through an emotional expressive gesture that speaks into the immeasurability and potentiality of the unknown. Tyrone Ferguson creates a physical metaphor with sculpture leads to viewer along a tightrope that has not yet established its destination.
Apryl Burrows talks directly to the rights of women in Bahamian society. Her works dramatically presents overcoming the oppression of gender restrictions upheld by past laws. The heart of freedom can be found in the ferocity of the individual; but this freedom is also fostered by the societal and legislative constructions through which it functions.
John Beadle critiques the idea of territory, security, and ownership in his work Solider Crab. This work analyses affects of involuntary and voluntary migration, our sense of physical and mental space. The inevitability of change need not be disorienting; the suggestion is that you carry your shelter with you and, with that, you carry your history.
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung refers to the conversion of St. Paul as the great nervous breakdown: a necessary transformative event that manifests in the lives of those individuals who are brave enough to forge their own paths. Perhaps, if society is heroic enough to follow, these paths could lead to a collective infrastructure that might lead to new kingdom that is yet to come.
By John Cox