'Jamaica, Jamaica!' in France - Exhibition opens at Paris Philharmonic August 2017
French journalist and documentary film director Sebastien Carayol has chosen 'Jamaica, Jamaica!' as the title of the exhibition he is curating at the Paris Philharmonic in France, opening in August 2017 and scheduled to run for five months. On Thursday evening, Carayol told those gathered in the N1, Neville Hall Lecture Theatre, UWI, Mona, the name is taken from deejay Brigadier Jerry's single.
The Global Reggae Talk was facilitated by the Institute of Caribbean Studies, in association with the Department of Literatures in English.
The title comes from the ending point of a sonic and visual journey which, Carayol said, covers slavery to dancehall, the latter a place where Supercat, in History, and Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley, in Welcome to Jamrock, have also has also called out to "Jamaica, Jamaica!" in detailing and analysing aspects of the country.
Like the deejays, Carayol is compressing a lot into limited space. It has taken some time for him to come to this point, as he picked up his first reggae record a quarter-century ago. Still, 25 years is a small part of the time period 'Jamaica, Jamaica!' covers and Carayol said "the exhibition I am trying to do could easily be 10 different exhibitions ... . The challenge is to be comprehensive in a limited space. You know you have to leave something out."
Music is the thread through it all, and Carayol noted how it is an entry point into Jamaica culture as "you start buying records and you ask who is Marcus Garvey. You read on the life of Garvey."
About 150,000 people go through a space which has hosted exhibitions on David Bowie and Velvet Underground. However, Carayol said, "in the French mainstream, all they know about reggae is Bob Marley. "They do not know about Leonard Howell, Haile Selassie." Referring to the Dennis Brown song The Half That Has Never Been Told and mentioning other performers like Gregory Isaacs and Culture, Carayol said "the idea is to tell them about that history and Jamaica in general".
In gathering items for 'Jamaica, Jamaica!', Carayol said that Jamaican music has been preserved "all over the world. A lot of it is not in Jamaica, but some of it is still in Jamaica".
Acquiring the artefacts has been challenging. "The difficulty is to convince people. These artefacts are really close to the people who have them. They are loaning it to you for five months. The convincing part is very important," Carayol said. "I am trying to find instruments and art exhibitions, not just pictures and videos," he said later in the talk.
Among what he has been able to get for the exhibition is Oswald 'King Tubby' Ruddock's original mixing desk, and Carayol also credited the "amazing" Hedley Jones, who built the first solid-body electric guitar. "That is a little known story in Europe," he said.
Performance is also a part of the exhibition. Carayol said he could see someone like Monty Alexander being invited to a space which has a concert hall. There is also the idea of using solar and bicycle-powered sound systems, as people come out with their children and as they ride "you are powering a sound system."