The Belly of the Whale: A Conversation with Cosmo Whyte

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This blog was created as a partnership between Kelley-Ann Lindo and Simon Tatum. Both are participating artists in the Arrivants exhibition and are serving as curatorial interns, assisting with the exhibition install and documenting conversations with other artists involved with the project. This post will focus on a conversation with the artist Cosmo Whyte, and it will illustrate his experience while installing his new work for the Arrivants exhibition.

Whyte is a Jamaican born artist who is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia, where he serves as a full-time teaching professor for Morehouse College.  He has a trans-disciplinary art practice and employs drawing, performance and sculpture to create conceptual work that explore identity and how it can be disrupted by migration. Moreover, his creative process is anchored by interrogations of his own body as a racialized black man.

For Whyte’s work in the Arrivants exhibition, he has been granted access to intervene within a prison cell space at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (BMHS). The BMHS site is housed in historic buildings originally used as the military prison at St. Ann’s Garrison. The buildings hold an extensive history and once served as the headquarters of the Windward and Leeward command of the English forces. There are only twelve structures like this military prison that were constructed under the British Empire, and this space is greatly significant within the Caribbean region.

One opinion that Lindo and Tatum were interested in hearing from Whyte was his thoughts towards addressing the prison atmosphere of the BMHS site within his short time limitations of the install.  Whyte mentioned that he had engaged in a similar experience with time restraint during a residency in Panama in 2007. That residency was a two week programme where he had to create new works on site for an exhibition. He saw that residency as a healthy experience because it challenged him to make new, experimental works and demanded him to negotiate his ideas towards the definitive construction of his artwork. Moreover, he carries that experience within his current practice and it helped him with the much more difficult install limitation (2 days) for the Arrivants exhibition.

Continue reading “The Belly of the Whale: A Conversation with Cosmo Whyte”

“Installation in Progress”

 

One of the most taxing, and exciting, parts of curating and organizing an exhibition is the installation, or “the install,” as it is now commonly called. It is taxing, because it takes long hours, hard physical work and acute problem-solving skills, as problems inevitably arise. But it is also exciting to see an exhibition which has been planned for a long time taking shape, and to see how all its elements and the context in which the exhibition is shown start talking to each other, which brings out new meanings and interpretations.

Right now, we are at the peak of the install of Arrivants, which opens to the public on November 9, but has an opening reception on November 8, as part of the MAC International Museums conference. So we have to be ready by November 7, and the race against time is on in earnest.This blog post includes a few photographs of the install, all taken today, and illustrates some of the many “moving parts’ of this exhibition project, including the diverse (and hard-working) cast of artists, curatorial team members and volunteers that is presently at work.

Part of the purpose of this blog is to allow members of the curatorial team to reflect on the experience, as well as on the significance of the exhibition and on the general issues involved in exhibition-making in the Caribbean. We have recruited two curatorial interns,  both young artists and emerging curators, Kelley-Ann Lindo from Jamaica, and Simon Tatum from the Cayman Islands, to serve as the main contributors to this blog–part of this project is also to contribute to curatorial capacity-building in the Caribbean region. Both are also artists in the exhibition.

Simon Tatum was born in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, in 1995 and is based there. He was educated at the University of Missouri (BA, 2017). His solo exhibitions to date are Discover and Rediscover (2016), within the University of Missouri and Looking Back and Thinking Ahead (2017), within the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. Various group exhibitions include Open Air Prisons (2016), LACE Gallery in Los Angeles, California, and Sense of Place (2018), Spinnerei Halle 18 in Leipzig, Germany. He was part of the Caribbean Linked IV (2016) residency programme in Oranjestad, Aruba. Moreover, he currently serves an Assistant Curator at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

Kelley-Ann Lindo was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1991 and is based there. She has been educated at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Art (BFA in Painting, 2015). She worked as a gallery assistant at the CAGE Gallery, as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery of Jamaica, and currently as an assistant visual arts coordinator at the Multicare Youth Foundation and a lecturer at the Edna Manley College, all four in Kingston, Jamaica. She has been artist-in-residence at Alice Yard, Port of Spain, Trinidad (2016), at NLS, Kingston, Jamaica (2017) and at Blaqmango Consultancy, Kingston, Jamaica (2018). Her work has also been exhibited at the National Gallery of Jamaica (Jamaica Biennial 2017), Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts (Final Year exhibition, 2015), and the College’s CAG[e] Gallery (2014). Lindo produces large, mixed media installations, but also works in drawing and print media, and in video.

Other contributors to this blog are: Karen Brown, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Museum & Gallery Studies, Director, Museums, Galleries and Collections Research Institute, University of St Andrews, Scotland, Coordinator, EU-LAC-MUSEUMS project; Alissandra Cummins, Director of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society and Principal Investigator for the EU-LAC Museums project in the Caribbean; Allison Thompson, art historian and curator, and lecturer in the fine arts department of the Barbados Community College; Veerle Poupeye, art historian and curator, and lecturer in the School of Visual Arts, Edna Manley College in Kingston; and Jessica Taylor, a London-based curator, who serves as Exhibition/Project Assistant. Allison Thompson and Veerle Poupeye guest-curated the Arrivants exhibition, and Veerle Poupeye is coordinating this blog.

VP