Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Let There Be Reggae... at Art Basel, by Irish and Chin

Published:Wednesday | November 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Gilbert 'Irish' Murchison (left) and Garfield 'Chin' Bourne.
Members of Mighty Crown sound system at the 2007 staging of death before dishonour.
David Rodigan excites reggae fans with some classic Jamaican music.

Each year, celebrities, fine artists and art aficionados flock to the shores of Miami Beach for the extensive Art Basel exhibition.

For the first time this year, a piece of sound system culture will be put on display by veteran sound system Irish and Chin, who will helm their own exhibit space called, 'Let There Be Reggae'.

Co-founder of the sound, Garfield 'Chin' Bourne, told The Gleaner that panelists will be invited to take observers all the way back to the beginning of sound systems.

"I am looking at some of the sound systems that made a mark in the 80's and 90's era of dancehall, which I believe is the most exciting era of dancehall."

Chin plans to invite those who experienced the development of the culture first-hand, to lead the discussions.

"People who can tell the story; intellects that can say this happened, and say why that happened, now this is why you have what you have today. I want to make sure the culture is the nucleus of the story," he told The Gleaner.

Art Basel is an international art fair with three shows staged annually in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida; and Hong Kong. Each show is organised into sectors that showcase contemporary artworks by established and newly emerging artists. Let There Be Reggae is set to showcase artefacts from various sound systems from across the world.

"We will have memorabilia, dub plates, amplifiers and other recognisable elements attributed to sound system culture on display. You may see a Sir Rodigan dubplate to a Mighty Crown dubplate to an LP International dub plate, Downbeat or even a dubplate from Renaissance," said Chin.

"Whether a party sound that juggled weekly in the dances or a hardcore clash sound, we hope to showcase these artefacts and supply you with some information on the history and impact of each. I think it's a great platform, for getting some of the artistes to understand the magnitude of the culture."




The upcoming exhibit will not only showcase the sound system side but also the culture of dancehall and reggae by displaying distinctive clothing of some of dancehall greats like, Shabba Ranks, Super Cat or Pinchers. Chin said that they have undertaken producing and /or sourcing replica items, based on some recent 'reasonings', may be able to find originals.

"We want to tie in the whole era; what we listened to, the selectors, the dub plates and the styles that complimented all that fashion-wise. During the 80s and 90s, the attire played a huge part of dancehall, similar to hip hop. In dancehall, you had the Desert Clarks and Travel Fox, or the silk shirt or a bad linen suit, which were staple articles of clothing in the dancehall. "

Let There Be Reggae Worldwide, will take place on December 7, inside the Miami Beach Convention Center. "This platform will only propel sound system culture and introduce our culture to new persons worldwide. People can now understand why many of us say that hip hop street culture comes from the Jamaican dancehall culture and create a conversation," Chin said.