Boats, birds, buildings beautifully decaying - Visions 2016 - Photography Exhibition
The nude woman looks like she is running away from the photographer in one image - on a bridge which is ruined , so escape as so many women have found to their detriment in Guyana. The anonymity a brutal reminder of the judgement passed on women .. you too fat, you too ugly, you too dark, you too tall, you too hairy.. .
In another other print at the end of my walk around the island of beautiful photographs on black cloth , the two women at the bottom of the stairway to heaven are positioned in ways that remind me of the pictures of ship holds and the position of bodies imprisoned as slaves. This is perhaps Guyanese culture where heterosexuality and 'natural attraction to females' involves subjugation and domination, and where objectification is constantly reinforced, and where men with 'unnatural attractions to women' remain silent when those use 'natural attraction' to defend violence against women.
Visions 2016 is a curated exhibition of photographs. According to the website, the aim is "to exhibit works that showcase the unique and diverse people and landscapes of Guyana while using the medium to address important social topics. "
The exhibition was organised after the Government pulled funding from what should have been a Jubilee event 'Capture Guyana'.
There has been a revival of photography in recent years , resulting in many interesting projects such as Humans of Guyana.
My own interest in photography is in trying to get click bait for the writing and to gain attention and validation on social media. I have been fascinated though in how the photographers have organised in Guyana.. social media, events such as the Photography Sessions
Thanks to the Internet, some of the most beautiful images of Guyanese and Guyana have been shared, often without too much fanfare
More people have access to cameras, some people are going beyond selfies and food porn. There is a kind of 'democratisation' in that anybody could tek a pitchah now and get some fans and comments. Or not.
The curator of visions is Karran Sahadeo. The curatorial notes were scripted in technical art language and I would not pretend to understand the language too much. (Art is either 'nice' or 'not nice' for me or 'nice but troubling' sometimes' ).
I understand that the curator wanted to use the space creatively to display photographs about Guyanese culture and lifestyles..
Watch the step
The building is one of the beautiful wooden 'colonial' buildings. There are signs 'watch the step', and reminders for all folks to lower their heads. I have no idea if this small entrance with its cautions is a reminder of what the Colony used to be like.. where people had to be careful when they entered these spaces which were not meant for the public.
Down the road is the padlocked Parliament Square. There must be a way to convert it into a space which could be used for exhibitions.
The room is large, and there are windows on the side. The light is mostly natural. There is an island in the middle, black cloth mounted on boards positioned 'zig zag' to give a three dimensional effect. I started walking at the left hand and moved around and then realised that I could have started anywhere.
With my racism intact, I realised that this could have been one of the jubilee events with diversity. The photographers are black, coolie, chinee, putagee and mix of some or all of these or maybe none of these. Women and men. Mostly young.
Lots of boat pictures and people might assume that fishing is a big lifestyle occupation in Guyana. The bird pictures are beautiful (I have never seen an ugly bird picture though.. so kudos to the photographers and the curator for being able to select).
Black and white/monochromatic - about half of them. (I counted). Jhandi flags and birds in the sea.
I am not sure about titles and photographers - it was a bit confusing on some of the boards to identify what was what. I was looking for the 'Arapaima' in what I thought was the picture about the Arapaima. Maybe next time for simple folk, there might be a need to mess up the dispaly a bit with some numbering and so.
But then I thought, to hell with titles and captions , bird is a bird, and boat is a boat and man is a man and woman is a woman ..
There is something though about the exhibition.. the lack of of people, there could be reasons. I am fed up of Guyana being Kaiteur Falls and the 'undiscovered' .. Guyana has to be about the human beings who live and work.
Beautiful one of a fisherman 'Dedication', and another of an old woman at her "Birthday'. Energy in the Mashramani, and caution in the 'wedding'.
My favourite collection is from Aisha Jones - three pictures of people.
Buildings beautifully decaying..
There are beautiful pictures of the wooden buildings which are falling apart.
Two stunning pictures of buildings and fire.
There is something troubling about the decay.. and wondering whether with the adjustment to the decay in Guyana generally is this obsession with finding beauty in the decay , and not being able to Capture say any work which is done on restoration and new building. Was the Government afraid of this representation and hence they pulled the funding?
Exhibitions are limited of course by space, and other things. There was a 400 slide presentation by Hilton Chan instead of a display. Some of the photographers have websites.
Praises to all who were involved in this exhibition. I hope it continues every year. It would be good to expand to include some teaching/learning sessions so that more of us could be involved in capturing Guyana.
There is a woman walking on the landscape in one of the pictures. Her hands are high. At first it looks like if her head is not good.. not many of us walk with our hands high.. but she is walking like if she has a right to be in the landscape. Unafraid of it She is part of the landscape.
How could we vision a place where every Guyanese feels a part of Guyana?
(Visions 2016 runs until June 30 at 62 Hadfield Street, behind Saints Stanislaus from 9am to 4pm. )
Update : The exhibition is now online on the Visions website.