Monday, September 19, 2011

IDB Cultural Center Lecture: British art critic EDWARD LUCIE-SMITH on Jamaican Art: The Problem of Multiple Identities

Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.

The longstanding problem for Jamaican art has been a confusion of identities.  The trauma of slavery, for example, has led a number of Jamaican artists to identify themselves as being essentially 'African'.  However, lacking tribal identity, they would not be recognized as being truly African in Africa itself.  Similarly, resistance to colonialism has led to a cult of so-called 'Intuitive' artists, untutored painters and sculptors, immune from fashions, imported from Europe and the United States.  The facts are, however, that Jamaican art owes a great deal to the colonial mother country, Britain, in large part because so many artists from the island have received at least part of their training there.  In recent years, Jamaican art has also owed a good deal to what is happening in the USA.  Because Jamaica speaks English, its art is very different from that of Cuba, only 90 or so miles away.  Cuba clearly belongs to the wider sphere of Latin American art; Jamaica does not.  Despite the cult of the Intuitives, there are also wide differences between Jamaica art and the voodoo influenced art that is regarded as being typical of Haiti.  In fact, the story of Jamaican art, like the story of Caribbean art in general, is one of cultural pluralism.  Paradoxically, its energetic eclecticism is the thing that gives it its own, immediately recognizable character.  The mix-and-match of the new global culture is now being played out within the boundaries of one relatively small community.

In May 2011 the IDB Cultural Center presented an exhibition of contemporary Jamaican artists, invited by the World Bank to exhibit their work in the Caribbean segment of ABOUT CHANGE, a hemispheric survey organized by the World Bank Art Program, in partnership with the IDB, the OAS, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.  Exhibition catalogue.

Free and open to the public, held at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Enrique V. Iglesias Auditorium, 1330 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC, one block from Metro Center, 13th Street exit.  Photo ID required.
Attire is business casual.  Unreserved general admission.  (202) 623-3558

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