City Paper is not for tourists
To mark the golden jubilee of Jamaica’s independence, the Art Museum of the Americas has turned to an eclectic mix of photographers and visual artists who have one foot in Jamaica and another in the United States. Jacqueline Bishop’s digital photomontages of crumbling estates are mashed up with antique photographs, the best of which suggest a palpable ghostly presence. Cosmo Whyte’s “Heirloom” series features the dreadlocked artist wearing a charcoal pinstriped suit, his face obscured by layers of neckties that seemingly embody the pull of American affluence. But the standout is Andrea Chung, whose video work tweaks a late-1970s Jamaican tourism commercial that will be familiar to anyone between about 40 and 60 for its romantic imagery and soothing music (“Come back to Jamaica, your new island home”). Chung keeps the audio intact but excises each of the (black) characters, cleverly scrutinizing tricky issues of race and class. Incongruously, the commercial’s music is more Mormon Tabernacle Choir than reggae, and the imagery includes polo, lavish dinner settings, and ballroom dancing, even though the country ranks in the bottom third of GDP per capita among countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Outward Reach” is on view 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays–Fridays to Sept. 28 at the Art Museum of the Americas’ F Street Gallery, 1889 F St. NW. Free. museum.oas.org. (202) 458-6016.