‘Gaze’ features the artwork of Melissa Alcena, Delton Barrett, Theo McClain, Clavia McClain, and Blair Meadows. This group photography and video exhibition was produced by guest curator, Ivanna Gaitor after she applied for our open-call entitled “curator opportunity” in 2022. Gaitor was awarded the curatorial prize as a result of her outstanding submission essay, about the challenges of the “tourist gaze” and artists/artworks that have transcended it.

Excerpts from Gaitor’s essay include the following:

“What comes to mind when you think of paradise? There is likely an immediate mental visual of crystal-clear water, miles of sand, palm trees and a cold drink in hand. Maybe even a private cabana and a nearby hammock. When we consider the many islands and cays within the Caribbean that are synonymous with paradise by design, we often forget the people that are native to these getaways. Tourists would not be alone in this erasure: governments and joint powerful entities largely contribute to this as well. In fact, they are the reason the tourism industry exists. In The Bahamas, specifically tourism, is the bread and butter of the economy.

Millions of dollars are annually pumped into crafting the paradise narrative that attracts tourists. Which means that thousands of Bahamians depend on the tourism industry to sustain themselves and their families. An overreliance on an industry rooted in service can have damaging effects on a nation’s identity and surely for The Bahamas it has. Whether you are a taxi driver stationed at the airport, a downtown store clerk or a college student pursuing study abroad, you are an unofficial ambassador of your country. It is embedded within you to cater to and preserve the expectations of current and potential future visitors by greeting them with a warm smile, and going above and beyond the call of duty.”

“These expectations of amplifying the paradise narrative are also burdened upon local artists. Artworks of palm trees, beachscapes, conch shells, women figures going to and from the market and fish are common subject matters that are most sought out in Bahamian art. But Bahamians make art that far exceeds this limited subject matter.”

In response to her essay, Gaitor pulled together Bahamian photographers and film artists that document Bahamian narratives for a Bahamian audience.