Contemporary Art in the Americas Arte Contemporáneo en las Américas

We Suffer to Remain

Graham Fagen, Sonia Farmer, Anina Major and John Beadle

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas Nassau, Bahamas 03/22/2018 – 07/29/2018

Group show. Exhibition view of Troubling Narratives: This is how we suffer to remain, at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas, 2018. Photo: Dante Carrer. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

Group show. Exhibition view of Troubling Narratives: This is how we suffer to remain, at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas, 2018. Photo: Dante Carrer. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

Group show. Exhibition view of Troubling Narratives: This is how we suffer to remain, at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas, 2018. Photo: Dante Carrer. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

We Suffer to Remain is a collaborative exhibition whose seed was sprouted in November 2015, when I was invited to be a part of a curatorial cohort that visited Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, as a part of the British Council expanding and investing in the emerging and burgeoning visual art ecology in the Caribbean. This meeting set an idea in motion about how institutions in the Caribbean can start thinking in new ways about partnerships and collaborations that, 20 years ago, might not have been possible. The Caribbean as a creative space continues to flourish in its liminality, continues to grow and inspire globally as a cornerstone of excellence but, unfortunately, also continues to be a perpetual site of extraction, exhaustion, and removal. Perhaps one needs to be alone with these words to understand the gravitas and the generational weight of our inheritance.

This space has always been one that has been fortunate for us; thus today we see the contents and the actions of this seed. “We Suffer to Remain” started as a way for us: The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas in partnership with the British Council—through their “Difficult Conversations series, centring around the work of Scottish artist Graham Fagen—to remediate and make linkages to a shared history that is often denied or dismissed. A history is hidden and poorly articulated and realized within our contemporary society. A history that bears implications far and wide as the oppression and social codes birthed in the wake of this history has left indelible scars for us to reckon with.

Graham Fagen’s 2015 Venice Biennale project The Slave’s Lament finds itself at the core of “We Suffer to Remain”, and it is likened to that seed and the way we begin to unpack our reality, unlearn and relearn our history and unravel the sentimentality and untruths that we have picked up along the way about ourselves. The navel string and center of our truth are tied profoundly and intrinsically to the transatlantic slave trade, and slavery pioneered by the Empire.

Yet we have a narrow point of view about how it touched us and others across the Caribbean. Indeed, there is a sense in The Bahamas that perhaps the country must have been spared because of its agricultural makeup, its archipelagic sprawl and of course the length of time that slavery was in effect from the late 1700s through 1838. We feel many ways about how much pain we should still carry, how much healing should have been had over these last five centuries; we move between those markers as a way to know ourselves.

Fragment from “Troubling Narratives: This is how we suffer to remain
by Holly Bynoe

http://nagb.org.bs

Group show. Exhibition view of Troubling Narratives: This is how we suffer to remain, at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas, 2018. Photo: Dante Carrer. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

Group show. Exhibition view of Troubling Narratives: This is how we suffer to remain, at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas, 2018. Photo: Dante Carrer. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

Group show. Exhibition view of Troubling Narratives: This is how we suffer to remain, at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas, 2018. Photo: Dante Carrer. Courtesy of The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

We Suffer to Remain is a collaborative exhibition whose seed was sprouted in November 2015, when I was invited to be a part of a curatorial cohort that visited Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, as a part of the British Council expanding and investing in the emerging and burgeoning visual art ecology in the Caribbean. This meeting set an idea in motion about how institutions in the Caribbean can start thinking in new ways about partnerships and collaborations that, 20 years ago, might not have been possible. The Caribbean as a creative space continues to flourish in its liminality, continues to grow and inspire globally as a cornerstone of excellence but, unfortunately, also continues to be a perpetual site of extraction, exhaustion, and removal. Perhaps one needs to be alone with these words to understand the gravitas and the generational weight of our inheritance.

This space has always been one that has been fortunate for us; thus today we see the contents and the actions of this seed. “We Suffer to Remain” started as a way for us: The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas in partnership with the British Council—through their “Difficult Conversations series, centring around the work of Scottish artist Graham Fagen—to remediate and make linkages to a shared history that is often denied or dismissed. A history is hidden and poorly articulated and realized within our contemporary society. A history that bears implications far and wide as the oppression and social codes birthed in the wake of this history has left indelible scars for us to reckon with.

Graham Fagen’s 2015 Venice Biennale project The Slave’s Lament finds itself at the core of “We Suffer to Remain”, and it is likened to that seed and the way we begin to unpack our reality, unlearn and relearn our history and unravel the sentimentality and untruths that we have picked up along the way about ourselves. The navel string and center of our truth are tied profoundly and intrinsically to the transatlantic slave trade, and slavery pioneered by the Empire.

Yet we have a narrow point of view about how it touched us and others across the Caribbean. Indeed, there is a sense in The Bahamas that perhaps the country must have been spared because of its agricultural makeup, its archipelagic sprawl and of course the length of time that slavery was in effect from the late 1700s through 1838. We feel many ways about how much pain we should still carry, how much healing should have been had over these last five centuries; we move between those markers as a way to know ourselves.

Fragment from “Troubling Narratives: This is how we suffer to remain
by Holly Bynoe

http://nagb.org.bs

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