December 06, 2016
Order of entry Boxing Day 2016 A Division/Themes
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November 30, 2016
AN excavation project for the discovery of additional ancient Lucayan remains in Long Island is set to begin today, with local and international archaeological experts yesterday touting the excavation project as a big step towards the redefinition and subsequent better understanding of recorded Bahamian history.
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November 24, 2016
The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture held a press conference at the Cultural Village Arawak Cay on Monday, November 21, to distribute seed funding to schools participating in the upcoming Junior Junkanoo parade.
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November 18, 2016
Twelve leading ladies, 12 red gowns, one magical night. On Saturday, December 10, 2016 The Red Dress Soiree, powered by Aliv, will once again celebrate exceptional Bahamian women showcasing red gowns created by local designers at a high energy charity event.
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November 18, 2016
Junkanoo in Grand Bahama is expected to take a more “relaxed” approach this year, with more emphasis to be placed on fun and enjoyment than on competition.
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November 14, 2016
Art is always unique to a place and art also has a unique place in culture. As Jackson Petit and Peggy Herring illustrate in their capturing of local color, the disparities are real. Herring’s ‘Five Children at a Water Pump’ painted in 1984, a part of the NAGB’s National Collection, and Jackson Petit’s ‘The Home We Share’ 2015, a part of the D’Aguilar Art Foundation, articulate a 3-decade difference but depict little if any real change in many Over-the-Hill communities. Paradise may loom large and eclipse these areas but the reality that remains is captured and immortalized in paint on canvas.
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November 04, 2016
Art is often largely underestimated as a tool for education in schools. Outside of the use of art to illustrate a theme or provide a creative interpretation of a concept, the power of art as an inclusive and encompassing tool for understanding and looking at the world seems quite lost. Art opens up dialogue in such a vast catchment of topics in ways that other things just cannot, and in time for the 'back to school' rush, the photography of Greg Pesik, 'Nomad of the Golden Hour', currently on exhibit at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF) seeks to do just that -- to open up the floor for encompassing all kinds of conversations about the world around us.
Though Pesik typically moves around in the corporate world, he has always made a point of using his trips for business as a way to expand his checklist of places he's visited. "For me, photography has been a hobby and a passion for the last 30 years. In my professional life I'm involved with software technology - either running or helping manage companies--and that profession has allowed me to travel all over the world. Because of this passion, I take my camera everywhere and, over the last couple of years, I've tried to be far more dedicated to exploring the art form, rather than just snapping pictures of where I've been; this body of work is the result of that."
In using these trips as a way to explore new places, he began documenting things he's stumbled across in his wanderings with photography, and it has grown into the series of work seen in 'Nomad of the Golden Hour'. Printed on aluminum, the glossy, almost liquid-looking photos are reminiscent of commercial tourism photography, but Pesik adds his own touch -- making each piece feel personal and like it is part of a story. In fact, many of the works seem to have some unknown narrative behind them -- ideal for getting creative literary gears turning in children's minds for the number of possibilities in each image: a man in a bar full of jewel-colored bottles in Greece, or a snowy night with a single lit window that looks like some Robert Frost poem come to life, or even an apartment building in London and wondering about the lives of the people inside.
The DAF curates a show every year in September with the intention of having the space used for learning and to invigorate students and teachers alike for the new school year. Pesik's work provides a fun and engaging background for school trips. Not only do each of the photos open up dialogues around things like the weather, history, or biology, but there is also a world map and a series of globes, showing the location where each photograph was taken to show the scope of his travels.
It is interesting to see work like this, documenting what are essentially the travels of a business tourist, when we as a country are so often the backdrop of other people's holidays and getaways, and the excitement of the children in looking at these faraway locales is palpable. Snowed-in, spooky churches in colder climes bring up questions around weather, "How cold were you in this picture?", "Could you see your breath?" and give way to talks around tundra and biomes as well as the diminishing amount of daylight associated with higher and higher latitudes.
There's an irony in seeing his personal postcards in the Bahamian context, but then there's also a certain familiar scenario going on that most of us can understand that underpins his practice. Tessa Whitehead, who curated the exhibition alongside Saskia D'Aguilar (curator and director of the DAF respectively), shares "I think what I found interesting about his work in that regard is that he has this whole other life that we can all relate to: he has his 'money job' that he lives by, and then he fits his creativity into this life and it helps him familiarize himself to the places he has to be in. It's like he's making these little homes out of his nomadic life and that's what photography can do. It's what a lot of us as artists do with art in general in our lives, but this is a very clear way of showcasing that to the kids because they can see the image and then see the person who was there making it with no disconnect like you might have with painting or other media."
'Nomad of the Golden Hour' is Pesik's first solo show in The Bahamas and seeing his work presented like this has helped him identify recurring themes in his work, and this will no doubt help inform him as he moves forward and thinks more acutely and formally about his work, shifting away from using the medium as a hobby and more as an art form as he has. The DAF will be running the exhibition until November 10, please contact the gallery to book a viewing or drop in on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m..
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October 29, 2016
Part inner sanctum, part history lesson, 'Holey Space' exists as an honest but healing look at the first wave of our sombre colonial past with Columbus and the Tainos. This play on words sets the tone for Chantal Bethel's intimate new show in the Project Space (PS) of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) opening Sunday, October 30th. It generates reverence to these ancestors we never knew, addressing the gap left in our lineage from these original Bahamian inhabitants.
With its beginnings resting in inspiration from her sister in law Marion Bethel's poetry anthology 'Guanahani,' Bethel exhibited work under the same title for an exhibition in Brussels. The word itself strikes feelings of a sort of misplaced nostalgia for this eloquent native name for San Salvador before the Spanish set out to lay a more 'civilized,' Christian name for this place of Columbus' first landfall in the New World. So much came to be from that first touch of leather to white sand, and the erasure of the name served as foreshadowing to the erasure of an entire people.
For 'Holey Space' however, Bethel took a much less grave tone and opted instead for one of honor and remembrance, making the space one to uplift - but to never forget. She has designed the space to serve as a place of deference to the past, but with a hope to feel more optimistic for the future.
She has played the part of a storyteller, sharing this history and speaking on behalf of these people we know so well through books but often feel so disconnected from. The 'Holey Space' acts as a bridge in this way, a way to connect. "While I want, to tell the truth, I am very spiritual, and I believe we need peace in this world. There is so much violence here and the rest of the planet, and terrorism on the horizon for so many - there is even a sort of terrorism of nature like we have just experienced with Matthew! So that is why I wanted to create a sanctuary. It is a place where you face the facts but in a setting where you feel peace and love."
Moreover, a sanctuary it is. Calling upon ideas of ancient tombs and temples with the petroglyphic style to her paintings, carving into the paint like the walls of caves. The space itself becomes reminiscent of a cave, with the circle at the entrance serving as a portal into a space of peace and worship. The work is filled with symbolism of openness and shelter, to further bolster this idea of a safe and neutral sacred space.
The stones used throughout many of the works are all very peculiar with their holes at the center -- hence the wordplay in the title. She began collecting them two years ago at the beach at High Rock in Grand Bahama and began to look further into the strange objects, soon finding that they were often used as amulets for protection by many native peoples. "The pile of holey stones I have collected that rest in the centerpiece of the installation serve as a representation of those that died, like their bones put forward for contemplation. It is called 'Rising Souls' and the work is almost like a burial mound in remembrance for the Tainos. The circle at the top of the piece works as a further form of protection, as circles are also symbols of protection, something that keeps the 'bad' out. That is also why there's a circle at the door; the circle allows you to come into the sacredness of the space in safety and wellness."
As Bethel strives toward a space of contemplation and reflection, as well as hope, she engenders a setting of peace and a way to help us find peace with this past. "You have to tell the truth, tell the story as it is because you cannot rewrite history. It is history, it is the past, it is gone, it is finished. However, you need to know about it to move forward. You need to go back and know your past to know where you are going in your future. I just want people to look at what happened and consider it for themselves in a space that is less negative and more cathartic."
The exhibition opens Sunday to poetry readings and dance, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the NAGB. With the poignant and almost magical poetry of Marion Bethel and dance interpretations from Chivvaun Smith and Deresa McPhee, 'Holey Spaces' promises to uplift with beauty despite the darkness of the past. The show runs through December.
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October 29, 2016
Waves wash over us,
Sun's rays bleach us,
Winds blow against us,
Nature blooms around us as we, indigenous souls, float in an ether of historical pain,
And we survive.
As the lushness of the island disappears in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, it is important to note the significance of imaging who we are and where we live. As Bahamians, we inhabit a geographic space that has beauty beyond words along with limitless possibility, and we must embrace our reality and step outside of the constructed, constricted reality being imposed on us. We are destroyed when we allow ourselves to be dominated.
I wanted to spend a minute on a recent exhibition by Kim Smith at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) 'Medium of the Masters, Master of the Medium' and to connect it with some other occurrences. Smith's work is distinctive in the Bahamian art environment because few use the pencil to demonstrate a keen eye for nature's gifts. Smith's perspective and the minutia of his detail and skill bring our changing landscape to mind. His work documents history.
Smith not only captures the fauna of islands huddled in the hurricane belt, but also the architecture of a quickly disappearing old Bahamas, where most buildings were created with an appreciation for space and place as well as a colonial influence that does set us apart from other places. We have abandoned so much of our historical architecture, and our nature to adapt a North American imagining of how we and our environs should look. We then set aside buildings with high roofs that work well in our environment in favor of pre-fab, poured-concrete, low-rise, flat-roofed homes that allow no breeze thoroughfare and that leak like sieves after a few years, if not sooner.
This shift has a serious impact on how we relate to our environment. Krista Thompson's An Eye for the Tropics explores this reality well as she describes the tropicalization of The Bahamas. This has been vividly imaged of late by the devastation post-Matthew, but also by a sadly shifting landscape that denies and defies indigeneity. Without honoring the indigenous, we quickly lose sight of ourselves, and we become untethered.
In recent years, we have witnessed an on slot of aggressive redefining of Bahamianness that removes us from the center and places us in a dehistoricized deracinated space. Sadly, that space does not allow us to grow; it does not nourish us culturally, socially or economically. It makes us servants to the almighty dollar and masters of nothing. Thompson's work directly relates this scheme to a sanitization of a space so that it becomes enjoyable for visitors. The lines across our DNA are deep and the scars profound.
Simultaneously, Kim Smith's works are an extremely timely capturing of a disappearing world through the eye of a pencil artist. His work is tight and exact; it creates splendid beauty. It demands focus and underlines the simplicity and complexity of nature that surrounds us as well as our built environment. The intersection of Smith's work with Thompson's book brings into sharp focus the efforts undertaken by Creative Nassau who presented at one of the recent class sessions for Expo 2020. They made students question our role in our loss.
As Hurricane Matthew makes us step out of ourselves so too does examining our cultural production from an unforeseen vantage point and trying to create an image of where we will be in twenty or forty years. Matthew destroyed boats; he destroyed homes, but with that he has given us a chance to pause, to listen. Will we take it? Can we rebuild stronger and more in tune with nature? Can we honor our indigenous past?
Chantal Bethel's upcoming show at the NAGB 'Holey Space' (opening, tomorrow Sunday 30th October) works around indigeneity through our mothers' stories, our ancestral and indigenous presences. The burial spot in Long Island, slave quarters scattered around islands, plantations laying in ruins across the country, must become vested in a truly empowered Bahamian space where their wealth can be explored, shared, engaged with and allowed to empower. We must divest ourselves of this modern story that says we exist exclusively for the tourist gaze.
As Creative Nassau thrashes through the gutting of Bahamian history, identity and culture and attempts reinfuse them sustainably; we are told that more of the coast will be Chinified. More of the land will be ghettoized to house people who are afraid of us or wish not to touch us.
As much as things change, the segregation visited upon us with large-scale or commercial tourism that pushed some off lands to create hotels has returned in another guise.
In learning about Bahamian history, for example, many students say that nothing relates to them and their worlds. We spend much time on the Arawaks, but do not connect them to the world we inhabit. We pay scarce attention to Slavery, to the impact of the arrival of the Eleutheran Adventurers, to the loyalists and their fabulous land grants and their influences on life today. We capture even less of the various migrations into our country of Lebanese, Syrians, Greeks, all of whom influence beyond a doubt the way we live. We are blinded to all but the official policy on a culture that promotes 'Junkanoo'-Carnival (appending Junkanoo to Carnival) because our culture is tourism!
We speak little of our oral history, the stories that pass from mouth to ear, through generations and across islands that make us Bahamian and speak clearly to a particular relationship with land and sea. We ignore the communities that are sea-based. If we do not, why and how would officials almost completely block off their access to the coast?
Nassau and its outlying communities form a part of unique Bahamian identity that Smith captures in his intricate work. However, these outlying communities like Adelaide Village, Gambier Village, South Beach, Pinewood are all a part of the 'True True Bahamas, to use a phrase from Patricia Glinton-Meicholas. These communities have witnessed incredible devastation with the passage of Matthew. How do we reconcile the existence of South Beach, built low in a flood zone, with the existence of old communities where buildings were created for the environment, not in denial of it? How do we come to grips with the discovery of a burial ground on Long Island and the national treasure this holds, with the threat to indigenous land ownership on Eleuthera?
When my grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers planted their gardens, they knew the moon; they
understood the seasons and the winds, and what needed to be sown when and how each plant would behave in a garden. They smoked pipes, some of them with a mixture of herbs they grew. They cooked in ovens away from the house. Much of their ways of life have been lost to the march of time, but also their stories have been silenced. Their tales of survival through community strength and familial bonds have fallen away.
Our histories seem to speak more loudly about what is present when what is silenced is more important. So much of art captures these silences and lays them on canvas, paper, wood, and stone, but does not explain away the importance. We are asked to explore, to think about what is revealed and then, even more, shall be unveiled. How does this threaten?
Let us hope that the work done through the Expo 2020 initiative, the labors of Creative Nassau, the passion of Sustainable Nassau, the vision of Kim Smith and Chantal Bethel, while each is distinct, will create a cultural confluence that pushes us over this hurdle of cultural commodification. Not everything can be sold to the highest bidder. Art can be consumed, but not all art will be pleasing in that way, and that is the beauty, the nature and the uniqueness of each artist's voice, all of whom form the Bahamian Artscape.
Our job as citizens in this millennium is to document how we live and to remember the past so it can be passed along. Our indigenous culture is lying in the shifting sand under our toes, let it not continue to be tropicalized by someone's get-rich-quick plan that cuts out the entrails of indigenous culture.
As we seek to empower Bahamian arts and artists and explore our indigenous voices, we must learn from the accidents of history and the ways in which other nations such as Iraq and the rise of world famous Zaha Hadid, Iraqui-born British architect, would be a national treasure, but the state's depreciation of women as it became increasingly exclusionary and fundamentally religious meant that progressives moved and enriched other countries.
As the Bahamas develops, let us be inclusive and truly empower Bahamian arts, artists, and intellectuals. Let us move away from seeing art and culture as items solely for sale. Let us value indigenous culture. My great-great grandmother's stories passed through my great grandmother and grandmother mother to me; I must now carry on a line that is centuries old and should not be broken. Our collective memory and artistic expression reside there.
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October 26, 2016
Fort Fincastle, the Water Tower, the Queen’s Staircase and the environs are set for major upgrades over the next several months, after recent Cabinet approvals to revitalize the country’s most visited historic attraction.
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Prime Minister Christie takes a few moments to enjoy International Cultural Festival at Botanical Gardens
October 24, 2016
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, accompanied by Minister with responsibility for Hurricane Relief and Restoration the Hon. Shane Gibson, paid an impromptu visit to the 21st Annual International Cultural Wine and Food Festival, on October 23, 2016 at the Botanical Gardens.
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October 22, 2016
Winslow Homer's 'Hurricane' captures howling winds of the storm in The Bahamas, however, the image, though teaming with meaning and feeling, does not capture the magnitude of today's super storms. These so-called superstorms bring with them devastation and trauma of epic proportions. The visual produced in Homer's painting remains haunting and provides an interesting couple for the Gulfstream painting, and After the Hurricane, Bahamas as it shows a man shipwrecked on a desolate island. These images speak to the prevailing threat of bad weather, but none of them capture the level of fury embodied by so many recent hurricanes as storms become more furious, poverty deepens, and sustainability becomes a question of whether people abandon old habitats in favor of more hospitable and secure lands.
I wanted to draw on the way Jordana Kelly in her recent prize-winning work examines the concept of cultural preservation and couple this with how hurricanes devastate the land creating new traumas and realities previously unforeseen. I also wanted to see the savagery of the sea and the hell storm of nature as it pounds us into submission, yet we do not submit.
Devastation challenges the marketing lingo of a stronger Bahamas as each passing storm pummels the islands. The landscape changes and along with that our ability to identify with our history, pass on our culture and create a thriving Bahamian art-scape are eclipsed. When we experience such trauma of natural fury, we lose our tether and our place in the universe easily shifts. Sadly, the shifting of cultures and populations due to natural disasters has become a common phenomenon. Erasure is no longer a far-fetched threat.
It has come home to many folks, think on Sri Lanka, a tea producer, suffered massive losses in the Tsunami 2004. Think of Katrina and the gentrification due to the shifting demographics of neighborhoods. Think too of what could happen in the Carolinas post-Matthew -the Carolinas are extremely important to early Bahamian history and settlement, and to speech and cultural patterns today.
We cannot inhabit sealed plastic containers that remove us from the threat of nature's wrath, but we can create systems that allow us and our culture to thrive and survive. Ms. Kelly's work has struck a chord, though many may not quite get it because of its apparent mundaneness, it does make us step back and think, which is something we are resistant to. We are even more resistant to interrogating our history. Hurricanes are meant to be natural cleaners, but what happens when nature sweeps away the roots of a culture?
What happens when government policy and national development no longer go hand in hand? What happens when a national identity and artistic voice, though divergent and flamboyant at some moments, low-key and understated at others, are silenced through plans hostile to national creation?
We have come to a point in a narrative where we are slowly losing voice, our story and identity rooted in 700 islands, not through natural disaster alone, but through poor vision and lack of real planning.
The history of Bahamian identity and creative expression includes Champion Brand tinned goods, and now, what Kelly sees as the end of a tradition. As more and more 'Tru-Tru Bahamian' tings disappear and more international objects surface, the uniqueness of the islands slowly fades away. When we talk about tourism, for example, we talk about large hotels or resorts that import almost one hundred per cent of their goods from the United States, a death knell for sustainability. So, the curtain descends on the creation of history-laden ubiquitous Bahamian products, once resilient.
Where is the silver lining? As yet another Bahamian company dematerializes into the ashes of memory, which soon fade because they become intangible, paved over by progress and first world status, there are no others to take up the mantel. The devastation of Winslow Homer's After the Hurricane, Bahamas captures the decimation of blasting winds that uproot hundred-year-old trees, toss boats ashore, damaging industries beyond repair. The once lucrative fishing industry that people relied on is gone. Much like farming, fishing will soon disappear for the small, independent fisherperson with one small boat and very local reach. The restructured coast, now gated off creates further boundaries, cutting off access, and those ways of life pass into distant memory.
The second image shows a man washed up on shore after the hurricane. Is he dead or alive? Our imaginings alone can answer that. However, the image of rough seas battered land, compromised longevity and no preservation is poignant. As Hurricane Matthew washed away the homes, lands, and livelihoods of people on the south coast of New Providence, Andros, Grand Bahama and, of course, a fragile Haiti that has still not recovered from the 2010 earthquake. When there is no longer land for the practice of traditional forms of culture and livelihood, then people either transition or disappear.
When Dole upped sticks and moved to Hawaii, when Hatchet Bay farms were nationalized and then gutted, when citrus farmers on Abaco lost everything because of international diseases from the imported citrus that would also undercut their produce, each time a death knell landed thud, but no one heard it because no one was listening.
Our story was being erased as if written in pencil on paper that would reveal little if any trace of the erasures that went before. Memory is fickle! These vanishings or cultural erasures are their own kinds of hurricanes. They are like storm surges that roll in and wipe out homes; only these acts are subtle, quiet, and invisible to silence and disempower. Culture is extremely delicate, though arguably resilient; after decades of undermining local sustainability and cultural expression, the roots of the trees can withstand no more. Similar to beach erosion, we shift and change with time and tide. However, what remains of us?
The relative serenity, though dark and brooding as well as foreboding captured in the opening image of this essay, is totally shattered by the man strewn on a beach far away from home. His boat is destroyed, perhaps he is dead, his bones will be bleached by the sun, flesh eaten by sharks as the waves wash him onto and offshore.
Hurricanes come faster and more furious to batter us, bruise us and untether our souls from their home. Where do we move to when the storm of historical silence and erasure has irrevocably altered our existence? Culture is fragile, even though it may not seem it.
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