Art

"The Other Side of Now" at PAMM Presents the Best of Contemporary Caribbean Art

Deborah Jack's water between us remembers, so we wear our history on our skin, long for a sea-bath and hope the salt will cure what ails us (2016).
Deborah Jack's water between us remembers, so we wear our history on our skin, long for a sea-bath and hope the salt will cure what ails us (2016). Deborah Jack
Among a handful of contemporary art museums in Miami, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) has long sought to stand out from the pack by presenting Caribbean and Latin American artists' work. Though these demographics are often overlooked by the mainstream art world, PAMM, under the leadership of director and chief curator Franklin Sirmans, views the museum's unique position at the cusp of North and South America as a natural forum to make strides for their visibility.

To that end, the museum has mounted a summer group show displaying the work of contemporary artists from the Caribbean and Latin America. "The Other Side of Now" assembles a variety of art forms, from painting to sculpture to installation. Though the 14 artists who were chosen to represent the Caribbean diaspora hail from different countries, familiar threads weave throughout their work. Most of the pieces show themes of self-acceptance, communal spirit, and environmental rights, but unlike similar exhibitions, this forward-thinking show strives to shift the dialog in a positive direction.

"We were interested in starting a conversation about how contemporary Caribbean art moves beyond ideas of trauma and colonization, thinking about the future," says assistant curator Maria Elena Ortiz, who co-curated the exhibition alongside Marsha Peace, a cultural studies scholar based at the University of the West Indies.

"We are in Miami — a city built by a lot of people including Cubans, Jamaicans, Bahamians, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, and beyond, and some of our best local artists are from the region, such as Edouard Duval-Carrié, José Bedia, among many others, so we are positioned to showcase work of the Caribbean because it is part of who we are."
click to enlarge Jamilah Sabur's This Is Where I Was Born (2018) - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
Jamilah Sabur's This Is Where I Was Born (2018)
Courtesy of the artist
Take, for example, the work of Hulda Guzman. The painter, who lives and works in the Dominican Republic, produces figurative work of strange and haunting scenes. Her dark interiors belie an eerie sense of estrangement and coldness.

The work of Miami's Jamilah Sabur is also on view in the exhibit. The Jamaican-born artist produces conceptual pieces that are deeply tied to her homeland and heritage.

"'The Other Side of Now' subverts facile ideas about Caribbean art and offers the exhibition and accompanying catalog as spaces for seeing work by these artists in new ways," Pearce explains. "Having a show that is driven by curators from the Caribbean — I am from Trinidad and Tobago, and my co-curator is from Puerto Rico — also speaks to ideas of visibility and agency."

PAMM has gone a long way to leverage its position in Miami to serve traditionally underrepresented communities. The institution is making a strong effort not to be just another contemporary museum in the city's already crowded landscape, but to add to the conversation. "The Other Side of Now" goes a long way toward achieving that goal.

"The Other Side of Now." Through June 7, 2020, at Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-375-3000; pamm.org. Admission costs $16; various discounts are available.
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Neil Vazquez is an arts and entertainment writer who works at the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow A Miami native and Northwestern University graduate, he usually can be found sipping overpriced coffee, walking his golden retriever, or doing yoga.
Contact: Neil Vazquez