Stuart Hall suggested that one should think of culture not necessarily as a return to roots, but rather in terms of routes, an idea that fully embraces an expansive notion of culture. This includes the routes by which people travel and also how culture travels, moves, develops, changes and migrates. As such, the exhibition title Jamaican Routes pays homage to Stuart Hall, and also serves to emphasize that although rooted in Jamaica, the exhibition extends well beyond Jamaica. The routes of this exhibition are complex and intertwined, reach from past to present, and back again. These routes are as influenced by history as they are by personal experience, whether they extend from Jamaica to Trinidad, The United States to Mauritius, from Kentucky to Kingston, or whether they are local routes that lead from Half Way Tree to the hills of Saint Andrew.
Already well known in Jamaica and the Caribbean, the eleven participating artists featured in Jamaican Routes are young artists whose careers are on the rise internationally. The works in the exhibition addressed a wide range of topics, including the social, cultural and political implications of Jamaican music as well as themes that relate to Jamaican cultural and identity issues in more general terms. Although not a strictly thematic exhibition, the intricacies of Jamaican music, and dancehall in particular, provide a powerful undertone for many of the works featured in Jamaican Routes. The works were carefully selected to provide a meaningful and nuanced impression of Jamaican contemporary art through video, film, photography, painting, works on paper and installations.
The exhibition catalogue is designed by Richard Mark Rawlins, a Trinidadian artist and designer based in Port of Spain (with strong ties to Jamaica and a deep understanding of Jamaican culture). Richard Mark Rawlins is also publisher of Draconian Switch, an art and design e-magazine. In addition to a curatorial essay by Selene Wendt, contributions to the catalogue include essays by the prominent writers Annie Paul, and Nicole Smythe-Johnson. Annie Paul is a writer and art critic based in Kingston, who also writes extensively about Jamaican music. Her blog Active Voice features witty commentary on current events in Jamaica, the Caribbean, India and the world. Nicole Smythe-Johnson is an independent curator and writer based in Kingston.
Participating artists: Camille Chedda, Andrea Chung, Marlon James, Leasho Johnson, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Oneika Russell, Ebony G. Patterson, Storm Saulter, Cosmo Whyte and Andre Woolery.