'Art' among the ruins?
I S a Banksy drawing to be considered as art? When is art to be considered art – and when should it be considered as, literally, rubbish? Jamaican artist Peter Dean Rickards' answer to both questions can be seen from his response to a classic example of Banksy street art from Banksy's visit to Jamaica in 2004.
The story goes that Rickards took a photograph of the elusive street artist, which soon got into the media, and then purchased the piece of dull grey wall on which Bansky had sprayed his Balloon Girl image in Kingston.
Although the bar was subsequently demolished, Rickards kept his bit of wall and, years later, brought it to Nottingham for an exhibition in which Bansky's work helps sell Rickards' alter ego LA Lewis and his standing as an arch satirist of the western contemporary art world…
Confused? It all makes sense when you visit New Art Exchange to see part two of the I Is Another show, which is devoted to Jamaican art in the island's 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.
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The main gallery space is now devoted to Rickards' show, which includes an installation titled The Afflicted Yard in which the Bansky wall is displayed amid piles of litter.
Rickards is said to have expressed amazement that "white people" should pay "thousands of pounds" for other objects touched by the hand of Bansky.
But it becomes clear here that Rickards has concentrated his efforts not just on bringing Bansky down a peg or too, but on sending up art-celebrity culture itself.
A breeze block labelled "the block that the builder refused" and a video in which Rickards/LA Lewis offers his framed underwear for sale adds to the sense of ridicule.
Yet the tone changes completely upstairs to see Ebony G. Patterson's exhibition Packaged Rites, based on the deaths of 73 alleged gang members during police and army operations against druglord Christopher "Dudus" Coke in Kingston in 2010. Patterson has taken black and white police mugshots of all 73 dead young men (and one woman) and incorporated them into colourful, sequined, braided bandanas.
Under the images, text runs around the room and asks who these people were. Who were their parents? Did they cry out for anyone? What did their voices sound like?
By reminding us of their underlying humanity the artist suggests that their deaths are the inevitable result of broader problems of violence and corruption in Jamaican society.