Connecting old cinemas with a fishing boat with red birds - Visions 2018
I jumped out of the minibus at the Arch for Industry Road and started walking down. Nice breeze, the road is narrow. People walking. Three girls pass me and they tell me good afternoon. I pass a man walking his two dogs and he didn't answer me when I said good afternoon.
I am looking at some of the houses, old style houses in Industry, there is concrete. Some nice flower gardens. I am looking forward to visiting the bottom house which Karen Budhram and Michael Griffith have converted into Oxygen Arts Gallery . The last few days have been rough. This gallery is the nearest art space to where I live, it has good energy. Oxygen
The gallery is the site for Visions 2018. The website describes Visions 2018 as "..the second curated exhibition of its kind organised through independent Guyanese photographers to exhibit works that showcase the unique and diverse people and landscapes of Guyana while using the medium to address important social topics." I had visited Visions 2016 , was beautiful. I had forgotten that I was struck by the old buildings, the birds and the boats.
Connections and clusters
The walls are white. The pictures are all beautiful. They seem randomly arranged - "mixed up" as one viewer noticed. The nice thing about making the launch is the chance to chat. Michael Lam explained that the pictures are arranged in clusters. I should read the Curator's notes. The curator is Karran Sahadeo. He has arranged the pictures in clusters. My mind though is on individual images and groupings of birds, buildings, people, etc.
Old cinemas and the fishing boat with birds
The notes are a guide to thinking about the cluster. I am focussed on trying to find the pictures and their title and the name of the photographer. My problem is that I randomly walk through exhibitions and don't follow the suggested order. I mean no disrespect to the curators.
Erosion does connect Kenny Harinarraine's old cinema to the waterfall of Darrel Carpenay. The intersesting though, is that Darrel Carpenay in his statement wanted to show the swifts moving in the gorge, and not erosion necessarily. But that is the nature of art - different people see different things.
Beautiful images.. but the politics too in my head as I walk around. Why this obsession with the beauty of decay? No beautiful images of living buildings around?
Vision in another context could be an uplifting kind of word so rather than the erosion of the waterfall, what about seeing the birds moving up and up!
Why again the beautiful images of young women with bare breasts covered - one with hands - why not have breasts exposed where they are exposed like in breast feeding rather than in this colonial kind of fetish 'native' way? If I had to do connections thought these images would have connected with caged birds.
Some of the pictures have interesting stories. Marceano Narine was able to take unique 'Reflections of the Galaxy' because the minibus coming from Lethem to Georgetown broke down.
Positive space and negative space
The curator guides the views in looking for positive space and negative space. So while I might say 'the pictures are beautiful' , I realise that there is a bit more to understanding why I think so.
I come home and google to find out what is positive space and negative space and I realise that I need to go back and look at the pictures again.
Visions 2018 talks about connections of works of diverse photographers. It launches in a week when Cde Volda Ann Lawrence , Party General Secretary and Minister of Public Health, highlights the division in Guyana by proudly announcing her disconnection from people who are not PNC .
It is useful , healing even, to visit the Oxygen Art Gallery, do as the curator asks, and go and find unlikely connections among things which seem so different.
Visions 2018 continues until 15 December, 2018 at Oxygen Art Gallery in Industry, East Coast Demerara, (tuesdays to Saturdays, 2pm to 7pm) and then after that until 29 December at Duke Lodge. Check the Facebook event for details Please go if you get a chance.