The National Exhibition 9 (NE), The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

When : 2019
Where : Nassau, The Bahamas
Application Deadline : 19 August 2018
Application Fee : None
Stipend : none

For the past 15 years, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) has committed itself to the nurturing of a healthy creative ecosystem for artists.It continues to push the frontiers, defining its position locally, refining its values and goals and declaring its role in the shaping of a vibrant and dynamic visual arts ecology.The National Exhibition 9 (NE) is an invitation to all artists–irrespective to how your practice is defined–to think about what risk-taking, truth-telling and innovation can do in a space that is still becoming.

As we continue to advance the thinking and impetus behind the National Exhibition (NE), we have used this platform in the past to honour contemporary works that are grounded in the advancement of practice, dialogue and social engagement. This year the attention is no different, as an incubator, laboratory and site of curiosity, the NE presents an opportunity for us to test the temperature of our artistic, cultural and social climates.

A socially curious project, “The Fruit and the Seed” centres around how artists are working to define their space and experiences. Whether it be through the lens of race, gender, parity and class as a way to clarify cultural, social and aesthetic decisions, the art-making process is used as a tool to bring to the fore ideologies on activism and advocacy, leading to a more empathetic and understanding culture.

“The Fruit and the Seed” is an acknowledgement of the binaries in which we exist, paying attention to the fertile creative space we inhabit, its nuances, contradictions and complexities. The analogy of the fruit and seed conjure up very explicit things–from the religious and poetic, to the agency around cultivation and harvest, possibility and outcome. The fragile nature of our ecologies in the age of global warming and the anthropocene is calling for a radical shift in how we tend to our ground and lives.

As the world around us contracts and becomes more conservative, reactionary and closed off, we see the conversations that art provokes as a way to negotiate, to understand and to find compromise. We also see these conversations as a way to demystify social stigmas and to unfix the dogmas that keep our humanity and compassion from being a part of the dialogue. So here, we turn to the many untold stories that lay silent and dormant within our culture, the secrets and fears, the achievements and triumphs, to break old habits and welcome a new awareness of self and others.

The National Exhibition 9 (NE) is an invitation to all artists–irrespective to how your practice is defined–to think about what risk-taking, truth-telling and innovation can do in a space that is still becoming. Within this liminality—and this is undoubtedly where we thrive—and as we come to grasp an understanding of what it means to be Bahamian, which in itself is perplexing and fertile as it has ever been, the central impetus for the call for works is to understand what is being created and why.

As the NAGB moves out of its formative years into its youthful years, we are thinking about futures, all possible futures within the spectrum for the institution, its surrounding communities, stakeholders, the country, wider Caribbean region and the diaspora as entities in evolution. This flux does not have to mean chaos and degradation, nor does it have to show up as insecurity or any of the reductive ways in which it sometimes manifests, be it through the perpetuity of anti-equality legislation, xenophobic laws and other mores and restrictions that keep beings/voices owned, compromised and hijacked.

As we come to know the shape of our futures and creative environs, the Museum is cementing its place as a haven and site for the contesting of rooted ideologies and speculations about our futures. So therein, here are some questions for your consideration out of which you may answer only one or many with your submitted project:

  • How are you diversifying your experiences and thoughts through art?
  • What language/devices are you using to speak about (re)presentation?
  • How are you unfixing colonial understandings of our society and decolonising your space with new ideologies and narratives?
  • How do these new images, writings, movements or selves look and where are they located?
  • How are you working with The Bahamas’ vulnerable geography to advocate for the environment?
  • How are you encouraging your colleagues and peers in this creative ecology?
  • How are you defending and protecting those that continue to be stateless?
  • What do the paths of resistance look like in your lives, your families, communities and the expansive country?
  • How are you making space for yourself and for others that share differing perspectives?
  • How does your intersectionality benefit yourself, your communities and country?

The NAGB hopes for this platform to create freedom for challenged dialogues, to incite opportunities for deeper engagement and cross-collaborations; further evidenced by the creation of works inside and outside of the institution. By being a witness to our times and contributing to the ongoing story, we collectively shape the components and narratives of our country.

Growing up means that we have to come to terms with that awkward and at times unsettling reflection in the mirror, but it also means that we are in a unique position to continue to mould, expand and, like water, move around obstacles of least resistance or better yet, we can forge our path.