Akeem Smith

April 10th - April 14th, 2020
Independent Art Fair
Spring Studios, New York

Drawing upon his extensive archive of hundreds of hours of Jamaican dancehall footage, Akeem Smith’s sculpture Dovecote is composed of decorative, welded metal gates, which encase a back-to-back video work showing stills of women glancing at the camera. Illuminated by the unfiltered “video light” beaming from atop the videographer’s VHS camera, Smith’s subjects remain frozen in arrested expressions of interiority.

Largely sourced from moments within the dance where the music has abruptly stopped, the video lingers slightly too long on these subdued gaps in which the party’s performative momentum has faltered. Titled after the Dovecote Memorial Park in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Smith’s score is an audio collage of samples pulled from the documentation of funerals found within his archive, affairs often received with mixed attention from the island’s uptown elite due to their cause for the attendees to conspicuously dress up in their dancehall best.

Smith’s use of the decorative grills—which function on the island as both a deterrent to domestic crime and as signifiers of wealth—gain further symbolic complexity in the context of the art fair, begging the question as to which side of the gates Smith is situating the women, and in turn, the viewer.