Daniele Radini Tedeschi
Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, Cannaregio (Fond. San Andrea 4118)
The ‘Epic Memory’ theme of the Grenada pavilion refers to the words of Poet Derek Walcott, in his acceptance speech for the Nobel prize in literature: “Antillean art is this restoration of our shattered histories, our shards of vocabulary, our archipelago becoming a synonym for pieces broken off from the original continent.” The Caribbean has been a site of synthesis, adaptation, rejection, affirmation and innovation, through the constant flux of cultures and people encountering one another. The recorded history, always at risk of being destroyed by the movements of earth, fire, wind, and water, leads to the memory stored in the DNA, passed from generation to generation.
The artists selected for the Venice Biennale were challenged to look at their own memories and how they define themselves in a Caribbean Context, even though some of them were not born nor grew up in Grenada. Their art works in the pavilion will include videography, installation, photography, painting and some works that combine all of these disciplines.
Shervone Neckles will share her memories about the immigration of her family from Grenada to Brooklyn, New York in the 1960s and 70s. The original family home in Grenville in Grenada was burnt by fire, but later rebuilt. In the Grenada pavilion, she will install a female body printed on polypropylene with a headpiece that resembles her family home. Many of the materials of the installation speak to impermanence. The art itself over time will degrade and disappear.
Shervone Neckles is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and community worker. She draws inspiration from the duality and transitional nature of her Afro-Grenadian American identity. Her work embraces collage, alternative printmaking techniques, book arts, sculpture and social investigations. She has participated in residencies as diverse as the Youlou Arts Foundation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, West Indies; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, FL; The Elizabeth Foundation’s SHIFT Program, NY; The Center for Book Arts, NY and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME. Her award-winning work has been shown worldwide in both group and solo exhibitions.
“My intention is to construct a narrative that captures the hybrid and transitional nature of my Americaness, Caribbeanness and In-betweeness. The installation is designed to center my life, the lives of my family, and our transgressions as the subject of history.”
Through his visually stunning photographs, Dave Lewis carries on the memories and legacy of his father, a centenarian who lives in the lush green mountains of Grenada. He expands on the idea of returning to a mythical ‘homeland’. Bewildered by the jungle-like density of the land that surrounds, by the dialect of English that is needed to understand, by the agricultural and tourist economic base that is vastly different, he photographs to create a narrative—a pathway for himself to the future. Perhaps he is seeing through the eyes of his father. Perhaps what we will view in Venice is the personification of love.
Born in London, Dave Lewis spent his early years in London, with the exception of a short period living on Grenada. After completing his degree in film and photography at the Polytechnic of Central London, he worked in a number of community photography project spaces, teaching photography as self-empowerment and as a campaign tool for social change. His portrait work has been shown at the National Gallery in the ‘Seduced by Art’ exhibition (2012). He also exhibited at the 2017 Art Biennale in Venice, as a part of the Diaspora Pavilion with his photographic narrative ‘Once Removed’. He currently teaches in the anthropology department at Goldsmiths University, college of London.
Billy Gerard Frank
A self-described victim of abuse, Billy Gerard Frank uses his own personal experience, particularly that of an absent father, as a narrative in his video. It is set in the heart stopping beauty of tropical Grenada, and the rough life of its fishermen. Invoking the waning British colonial life of the 1950’s, the Tower, a historical estate home, also becomes a star in the show. ‘2nd Eulogy: mind the gap’ is his attempt to come to peace with the present/absent, phantom father, while processing personal and collective memories around the father/son relationship.
Billy Gerard Frank is a multi-disciplinary artist, filmmaker and nominated production designer from the tiny island of Petit Martinique in Grenada. His works draw upon personal, political and social histories. He creates counter narratives that address issues of migration, race, and global politics. His collected, altered and own mix media artworks have been exhibited in group and solo shows in New York, London, and the Caribbean and are in several private collections and institutions. His narrative short film ‘Absence Of Love’ was shown in several international film festivals and was an Oscar Short Film runner up. He was nominated for a European Music Video award in the category of Production Design for his design of WarnerMusic Group artist, Mary Komasa.
“My practice as a multi-disciplinary artist is hinged on the personal, socio-historical and cultural rubrics of exile, migration, and the marginalized, my positionality as a queer man of Afro-Caribbean and Scottish heritage.”
Billy Gerard Frank
As a visitor, Amy Cannestra spent several months in Grenada in an artist residency in 2017/2018. Her work explores the creation of memories. She explores to collect items and stores them in little compartments or jars. She walks the tight rope between visitor and voyeur, silently viewing and recording the not so secret secrets. When Amy Cannestra exhibited her solo show ‘Horizons’ in Grenada in 2018, she didn’t know that her collection of shell fragments, wrapped and prettified with the fancy copper wrappers from Grenada chocolates, were actually the tools left on the beaches two millennia ago by the indigenous Kalinago people. Unknowingly, the history of the objects found their way to the consciousness of the artist, and an exciting process of discovery was begun. She will present her discovery in a mixed media, interactive work in the Grenada pavilion.
Amy Cannestra, an interdisciplinary artist from Wisconsin, USA, has a contemporary art practice that shifts back and forth between a light-hearted commentary on social and political issues and works investigating how human experience effects identity. Both ways of thinking are visualized through the use of common household items and found objects, which reveal insight to place and time, following in line with the 1960s Pop Art Movement. Amy Cannestra’s works have been shown internationally including the 2017 edition of TRIO: Three Dimensional International Rio Bienal, 2016 Transart Triennial in Berlin, and in galleries in New York City, and Los Angeles.
For its third participation to the Art Biennale, the Grenada pavilion moves to the Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello in Cannaregio. The palazzo was built in the 16th century by the Contarini family. The Capello family, originally from Capua, were among the first owners. When Elena Capello married Giuseppe Albrizzi in the 17th century, the palazzo became part of the property of the Albrizzi family.
If you want to know more about the Art Biennale 2019 and the other national participations, you can read my post ‘What to expect from the Art Biennale 2019’, or have a look at this overview page which links to all the articles related to the Biennale. If you want to be informed about new previews of national pavilions being added to the site, you can subscribe to The Venice Insider biweekly newsletter.
(Picture in banner: Billie Gerard Frank – Filmstill from ‘2nd Eulogy: mind the gap’ – © Billie Gerard Frank)
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