Ahead of his momentous “No Gyal Can Test” exhibition at Red Bull Arts New York next month, multifaceted artist Akeem Smith presents a new sculptural installation entitled Dovecote at Independent Art Fair — referencing the Dovecote Memorial Park in Jamaica’s Spanish Town.
Gleaning dancehall footage from VHS tapes given to him by family and friends, Smith projects emotive stills of Jamaican women often staring directly at the camera. These poignant scenes are relayed on a sprawling digital screen that is encased in rusty, welded metal gates alongside matching seating.
Smith’s score for the video-focused piece is an audio mishmash of samples that he pulled from his documentation of funerals in the country. These processions have received mixed views from the island’s “uptown elite” due to its party-like atmosphere with scantily-clad female subjects dancing to upbeat music.
“Smith’s use of the decorative grills—which function on the island as both a deterrent to domestic crime and as signifiers of wealth—gain further symbolic complexity in the context of the art fair, begging the question as to which side of the gates Smith is leaving the women, and thus, the viewer as well,” as per a statement by Red Bull Arts New York.
Smith’s site-specific work is on view at Independent Art Fair that is running until March 8. Get a closer look at the installation above and visit Red Bull Arts New York’s website for further details.
Elsewhere in art, get a look inside Reginald Sylvester II’s new transfer paintings with vivid abstract compositions as part of a new solo exhibition at James Fuentes Gallery.
Independent Art Fair
5th Floor, Booth 14
50 Varick Street
New York, NY 10013