The Jamaica Biennial 2017, the National Gallery of Jamaica’s flagship exhibition, is shown at three locations, namely at the National Gallery and Devon House in Kingston and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay. At National Gallery West, which is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, the Biennial features an interactive video installation by the Martinique-based David Gumbs.
David Gumbs is one of six specially invited international artists in the Jamaica Biennial 2017, who exhibit along with more than 80 artists from Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora, and the inclusion of these international artists is part of the National Gallery’s efforts to give the Biennial a stronger international outlook, with a focus on the Caribbean region. David Gumbs (1977, St Martin) studied at the Visual Arts School in Fort-de-France, Martinique, in 2001 and majored in interactive multimedia conception at Les Ateliers, L’ENSCI in Paris in 2002. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, including recently: Digital (2016), National Gallery of Jamaica; Video Islands (2015), Anthology Film Archives, New York; Transforming Spaces (2014), National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (2014); and the Martinique Biennial (2013), Fort-de-France. Since 2009, Gumbs teaches multimedia, transmedia and motion design at the Visual Arts School in Fort-de-France, Martinique.
Gumbs in 2016 participated in a Davidoff Initiative residency in Beijing, China, and his contribution to the Jamaica Biennial 2017 consists of an interactive video installation titled Xing Wang (Blossoms), which he developed during that residence. The video consists of five synchronized projections, four on a lace cube structure that stands on the gallery floor and one into the dome of National Gallery West. The mesmerizing, constantly moving abstracted video imagery is, as the title suggests, drawn from patterns in nature and is sound-activated. This is done in two ways: one is by capturing the sounds of the city of Montego Bay, which will be done live with an external microphone; the other is by means of a sensor built into a conch shell which is mounted in the middle of the installation, in which visitors can blow to activate the imagery.
The main opening event of the Jamaica Biennial 2017 took place two days later, on February 26 at 1:30 p.m., at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston, and is also free and open to the public.