:: by Mark King ::
At the beginning of April I revisited Nassau as a participating artist in Transforming Spaces. Last month the festival celebrated its 10th year and has become the Bahamas’ biggest contemporary art event. The main feature of Transforming Spaces is its island-wide guided bus tour of participating art spaces. This year’s theme was Water. At each stop the respective exhibition’s curator and available artists discuss their exhibited work and provide a glimpse into their artistic practice.
My work was shown in the Liquid Courage Gallery’s “After the Flood” exhibition, curated by Holly Bynoe. I presented “Knightian Uncertainty,” an installation consisting of tiled screen-prints serving as wallpaper in addition to four hand-painted framed panels. The patterned wallpaper depicts the coded representation of the phrase, Knightian Uncertainty, and the framed panels its maritime flag equivalent. When combined, these patterns trigger an anomalous optical illusion, which tricks the viewer into seeing part of the pattern move in the opposite direction to the neighboring design. Knightian Uncertainty speaks to my creative process and how it relates metaphorically to motion sickness experienced while floating in the sea.
A small but significant part of my childhood was spent in Nassau, Bahamas. From ’91 to ‘95 Cable Beach and Skyline Drive were home. Nassau is where I took my first art class. Sue Bennett-Williams taught us. We called ourselves the After School Gang. I attended Queen’s College on Village Road. My neighborhood crew played pickup baseball. We kept stats. It was an enriching four years- a time in my life I hadn’t looked back on much until recently.
Nassau was too damn hot to be walking around in a long sleeved button up at midday, but I didn’t care. I was focused. At least I had on shorts and my white camper hat. A paper bag clutched in my non-dominant hand, contained a cracked conch burger from Imperial. I found a crate in the corner adjacent to Liquid Courage’s warehouse door and got down to business. This moment was 10 years in the making. In between bites I looked up to see Heino Schmid and my host Blue Curry putting in work on their collaborative installation “The Reef.” James Cooper was in town a few days prior creating with Blue and Heino and it was now up to them to complete the dynamic piece.
Blue handed me his car key after drawing a detailed map on a paper shopping bag with directions to a business off of East Bay street. The previous night I had met Dylan Rapillard, Bahamian artist, curator and master printer who invited me to see the operation over at Bahama Hand Prints on Okra Hill. The midday sun still sat high in the sky but there was finally a breeze to speak of now that I was in motion. The ride was smooth, save for the taxi van and silver Honda Accord blasting Rick Ross that cut me off on Shirley street with zero warning. The streets were bright and vivid. Fourth dimensional even. Each corner and storefront was competing for my attention. I was even able to find my way back on track after a wrong turn. I often flip between crediting my decent sense of direction and an outdated fuzzy cognitive map for steering me in the right direction.
My recent visit to Nassau was a revelatory experience. One that was overwhelming at times. The positive energy was infectious and the inspiring conversations went on forever. The artistic output was amazing. There were way too many stand out pieces from great thinkers and doers to list in this post. I weaved between old friends from my childhood, new-ish friends from residencies and exhibitions past and the brand new faces belonging to the artists, curators, visitors, and supporters of Transforming Spaces 2014.
I doubt the same results would have been achievable at an earlier stage of my life; even four years ago to be honest. It comes down to the timing in my development and the supplied context being spot on. I left Nassau with an evolved understanding of my relationship with New Providence and in-turn a stronger bond with the Caribbean. I must go back soon. For the obvious reasons. Five days only allowed for me to scratch the surface. Plus I totally forgot to order Bertha’s Go-Go Ribs.
Mark King is a multidisciplinary Barbadian visual artist who explores archetypes and social norms. Interested in notions of topography and megalography, Mark makes coded, often-satirical work that highlight social phenomena. instagram: @markkingismarkings