Between Nation and Market: Art and Society in 20th Century Jamaica Open Access

Poupeye, Veerle H. (2011)

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This dissertation presents an inquiry into the social role of visual art in the postcolonial world. It considers the interplay between the ideological and economic forces that steer the development of art in the postcolonies and, conversely, the role of art in postcolonial social formation. Jamaica facilitates a rich case study on these subjects, because of its high level of cultural self-confidence; its well-established cultural infrastructure and art market; and its dependence on tourism. Fuelled internally by socio-economic inequities and ideological and political strife, postcolonial Jamaican culture exists in tension with the external world, because of the island's economic and political dependency, migration and cosmopolitanism, and the ambivalence towards the cultural hierarchies of the West. Particular attention is paid to the two main competing nationalisms - mainstream Jamaican nationalism and African diasporal nationalism - that have emerged as Jamaica has struggled to come to terms with its diasporal and slavery society origins and present-day realities and the conflicted ideas about art, as a tool for social transformation and as a commodity, that have been articulated in these contexts.

The study adapts two related social models of art - "art worlds" (Becker 1982) and the "field of cultural production" (Bourdieu 1993) - to the Jamaican context. It examines how notions of "art" and of cultural value and legitimacy have been negotiated in and between the "sub-worlds" of the mainstream, the popular and tourism, in a broad range of artistic expressions, including the nationalist school, contemporary art, traditional and contemporary popular art and visual culture, and the tourist arts. Special attention is paid to the politics of representation, audience responses and market forces that are at work in each of these worlds and the self-taught Intuitive artists are examined as a controversial mainstream construct that hinges on notions of postcolonial cultural authenticity but is uncomfortably perched between the dynamics of the mainstream, popular and tourist worlds. While questioning the efficacy of mainstream cultural production in postcolonial social formation, the study concludes that Jamaican society is more effectively forged by the counter-hegemonic thrust of its popular culture although this is powerfully mediated by its commodification.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. Jamaica and Postcolonial Culture 1
2. Postcolonial Cultural Nationalism 10
3. Ideas about Art and Postcolonial Society 17
4. Between Nation and Market 37
5. Jamaican Art Worlds 42
6. Research 47

Chapter 1 - A Critical Historiography of Jamaican Art 50
1. Defining Jamaican Art 50
2. "Jamaican Art 1922-1982" 51
3. Early Definitions 65
4. Building Blocks of a Narrative 77
5. The Expository Years 82
6. Counter-Narratives and Critiques 89
7. Publishing and Marketing 94
8. A Field of Struggle 98

Chapter 2: Jamaicanness and Mainstream Jamaican Art 101
1. The Style of Jamaicanness 101
2. The Nationalist School 101
a. Edna Manley (1900-1987) 108
b. Albert Huie (1920-2010) 118
c. David Pottinger (1911-2007) 124
3. The Independence Generation 126
a. Karl Parboosingh (né Karl Coy, 1923-1975) 134
b. Eugene Hyde (1931-1980) 138
c. Barrington Watson (b1931) 145
d. Osmond Watson (1934-2005) 153
4. Conclusion 156

Chapter 3: Public Art and Controversy 158
1. Introduction 158
2. Nationalizing the Official Historiography 158
3. The National Monument 164
4. The Bogle Monument 168
5. The Bob Marley Monument 173
6. The Emancipation Monument 180
7. Appeasement and Restitution 200
8. Conclusion 204

Chapter 4: Art, Identity, and Neoliberalism 211
1. New Art in a Changing Context 211
2. Interrogating the Art Object 213
a. David Boxer (b1946) 213
b. Petrona Morrison (b1954) 222
c. Omari Ra (né Robert Cookhorne, b1960) 225
d. Roberta Stoddart (b1963) 231
3. Contemporary Art and Jamaican Society 237
a. Transnationalization and Jamaicanness 237
b. Local Institutional Support 241
c. The Local Reception of Contemporary Art 244
4. The Jamaican Art Market 251
a. Collectors and Galleries 251
b. The Jamaica Guild of Artists 259
c. The Artist-Entrepreneur - Ken Spencer 263
5. Conclusion 266

Chapter 5: Popular Visual Culture and Art 268
1. Contentious Definitions 268
2. Traditional Popular Art 271
a. African-Derived Sacred Arts 272
b. Utilitarian and Decorative arts 284
3. Postcolonial Popular Art and Visual Culture 289
a. The Garveyite Iconography and Visual Culture 291
b. The Rastafarian Iconography and Visual Culture 296
c. The Visual Culture of Reggae and Dancehall 309
d. Street Art and Graffiti 320
4. Conclusion 328

Chapter 6 - Tourism and Tourist Art 330
1. "Dangerously Close to Tourist Art" 330
2. Tourism, Tourist Art and Social Conflict 337
3. Tourism and Jamaican Modernity 339
4. Early Tourist Art 345
5. Modernization and Glamour 350
6. The Professionalization of Tourist Art 355
7. The New Tourism and the Rasta Carvers 365
8. "Make It Jamaica Again" 369
9. Harmony Hall 375
10. Mass Tourism and the Politics of Craft Vending 380
11. Conclusion 387

Chapter 7 - The Case of Intuitive Art 389
1. A Canon for True Believers 389
2. Primitivism, High and Low Culture 391
3. Defining the Intuitives 400
4. The Early Intuitives 409
5. Primitives and Professionals 418
6. Political Radicalism and the Intuitives Concept 422
7. The Heyday of the Intuitives 426
8. The Death of Intuitive Art? 429
9. The Intuitives and their Patrons 435
10. The Intuitives and their Communities 440
11. Conclusion 443

Conclusion 445
1. Narrating Jamaican Art and the Politics of Representation 446
2. Tourism and Cultural Commodification 457
3. Art and Social Formation in Postcolonial Jamaica 462
4. Conclusion 466

List of Illustrations 468
Illustrations 477
Sources 586

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