NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Reimagining tourism’s place in The Bahamas and the Caribbean as an entire, and stripping away the romanticism of the country’s primary industry, Bahamian artist Blue Curry presents a fresh perspective in his latest solo show.
Beach towel flags, casino dice tossed in pink sand, and strobing conch shells are only a number of features of this internationally acclaimed Spanish Wells artist’s ‘Leisure Aesthetics’ solo exhibition. It’s also his first local comeback in over a decade.
On this work, Curry explores the way in which tourism impacts local culture, criticizing the illusion of paradise and the way in which it tends to stereotype nations within the Caribbean.
Founding Director of Tern Gallery, where Curry’s work is displayed, Amanda Coulson says that the artist has been working with this idea for a very long time.
“He’s questioning the esthetics across the tourist industry, not only within the Bahamas, but within the Caribbean typically, and the way that type of esthetic just takes over our lives and kind of flattens our own culture,” Coulson said.
She added that there’s also a challenge with these stereotypes in art where materials from the land are considered native or exotic, due to the situation but contemporary artists somewhere else will not be subjected to the identical interpretations.
“So other artists from other countries can use, say, the materials they find of their city and it’s considered very contemporary and really avant-garde and really modern. But, you realize, you set a conch shell on something and suddenly that’s native and even possibly a bit backwards.
“So he’s really attempting to say, no, that’s not the case. We, to start with, we’ve got our own culture. Second of all, we’re intelligent, avant-garde, contemporary people, in addition to having our tradition and heritage. And I’m going to make art that’s conceptual and difficult but with the materials from our own space.”
Also weighing in on the concept of Curry’s artwork, Professor at Univerity of The Bahamas Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett whose expertise is in post-colonialization. He spoke in regards to the discussion he had with the artist on ‘Leisure Aesthetics’ opening night.
“We walked into how the space, which is what my book is about, is being leisured. So mainly it’s being remapped to form a paradise image that doesn’t exist anywhere but exists in all places.
“In order Amanda Colson would have said, it’s flattening out our existence. But that is what Bahamians imagine they need. That is what many individuals have bought into as what the authentic Bahamas is,” Bethell-Bennett said.
Curry’s exhibition also incorporates a video of a person knocking off the leg of the Columbus statue in front of the federal government house constructing and a live guitarist in a straw hat and colourful buttoned-down short-sleeved shirt playing the song “Yellow Bird” to drive home his message.
The exhibition shall be open on the Island House Tern Art Gallery until October 29.