No Gyal Can Test
28-year-old multi-hyphenate artist Akeem Smith’s first major solo exhibition is on view at Red Bull Arts. “No Gyal Can Test” draws from a rich personal archive of photographs, videos, clothing, and ephemera documenting the Jamaican dancehall community of the early 1980s through the late 1990s.
Smith—who grew up between Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Kingston, Jamaica—brings this world to life with elaborate architectural installations that use building remnants sourced from the Kingston Waterhouse District of his youth. Embedded in these structures are archival photographs of glamorous dancehall queens and new multi-channel video works that utilize footage from the legendary parties.
From Red Bull Arts:
Part poem, part anthropological homage, ‘No Gyal Can Test’ forms a layered exploration of spectral coloniality, diaspora, and the voyeurism that results from transposing these artifacts across cultural, economic, and temporal divides.
Akeem Smith in collaboration with Jessi Reaves, Detail of Mannequin (with corset and expanded base) no. 3, Sandra Lee, 2003. 2020, Metal, sawdust, wood glue, wood, hardware, original garments, custom jewelry. Installation View of Akeem Smith: No Gyal CanTest at Red Bull Arts New York, 2020. Photo by Dario Lasagni. All artwork courtesy the artist and Red Bull Arts.