Fall 23 - Memories
Tiana Webb Evans
MEMORIES DON’T LEAVE LIKE PEOPLE DO
Jamaica Art Society is pleased to present Memories Don’t Leave Like People Do, an exhibition of video works by artists Simon Benjamin, Zachary Fabri, Ania Freer, Timothy Yanick Hunter, and Jamilah Sabur, curated by its founder Tiana Webb Evans.
The exhibition’s title, Memories Don’t Leave Like People Do, is a line from the chorus of Memories, a song from popular 90’s dancehall artist Beenie Man. The lyrics speak to the complex machinations of memory from both personal and political points-of-view, framing them as the critical residue of our actions that impact others in structural, social, and spiritual ways that often extend beyond our own lives and lifetimes. Beenie Man also asks us to be aware of how memories, whether our own or histories imposed by others, drive our actions, given the sovereignty we have over our minds.
The works in Memories Don’t Leave Like People Do explore the ways in which the often personal and culturally specific forms of knowing that come from memory can often supersede and undermine the more linear time of history. As history’s more elusive counterpart, memory’s ebb and flow of latency and emergence through recovering and remixing subsumed stories can often help us face the moment and shape the future. The series of works unveil this idea through the reimagining of personal, communal, and global stories. Zachary Fabri’s video, Chanting Black Clouds (2010) records his process for testing how many helium balloons it will take to hoist a stalk of locked hair into the air. His hair holds a record of his family history; his locks a cultural history. The work was a preamble to the uplift and release of genetic material and memory into the ether in Forget me not, as my tether is clipped, a 15-minute video that ends in the cutting of his dreadlocks. Ania Freer’s lush video, Riva Maid (2019), reveals the care with which ancient stories of aquatic beings have been retained and held by Jamaica’s remote river communities. These stories ensure a continuation of the respect and reverence for the symbiotic relationship with the waterways that sustains their community. Simon Benjamin’s pandemic-born friendship with Tommy Wong, a fisherman from Jamaica’s South Coast, resulted in the production of Errantry. The immersive multi-channel piece is both a visual symphony of atmospheric sound and an exposé on an oceanic life, deep time, labor, climate change, and our relationship to the world. The Harvesters (2022) by Jamilah Sabur addresses the long-standing connection between mining, the extraction of resources, and matters of work and play. A reminder of the interrelation of colonialism, capitalism, and contemporary society, The Harvesters is situated between the body and the ocean. Sabur helps us recalibrate and form a latent neural connection between our human body and the Earth body. Timothy Yanick Hunter deploys the ‘remix’ as methodology and cultural schematic rendering the fragment as foundation. Hunter’s True and Functional (Stereograph), (2022) features snippets from an interview with Nigerian writer Buchi Emecheta, documentary footage from South African ballerina and choreographer, Kitty Phetla, and British broadcaster and activist Darcus Howe speaking on the colonial suppression of Reggae music. Together the three excerpts are remixed into a metascape of a globalized Black experience that defies and collapses contemporary temporality, proposing memory as a way of working through present day challenges.
Together these artists are mining archives, oral histories, and even themselves to give breath to possibility and alternative modes of being.