Why Andy Warhol? What if anything does that have to do with Belize?
Well Andy Warhol saw the talent in the vessel of Jean Michel Basquiat. I say, saw, I would never say discovered, because the discovery is something each artist does for his or her self. But for easy consumption, of course, we prefer things to be easy to chew, small and simple enough to fit in our stereotypical confines, we say that the powerful, artistic Andy Warhol took Michel Basquiat off the street and discovered him, sent him into the stratosphere of the art world.
This is something we could try to do in Belize.
Some people would see Micheal Gordon's work and want to spin you the story of an eccentric, troubled man, who started painting on cardboard on the steps of Channel 7. Someone who has been been lifted into the light by Yasser Musa, the prolific Belizean artist, poet, painter.
That is easy to do, tell a tale of a naïve artist cradled by an artist who comes from a space of prominence.
Trust me, if art depended on prominence, in Belize, where it is a rare commodity, there would be little to speak of.
And let us focus on prominence, not belonging to that space myself, an outsider watching from the hot sun outside, into the comfortable, air conditioned room inside, I can say that I am in no position to speak on it.
My view will be 'outsider' at best.
I can't speak for all artists, but I can speak for myself; that the unrest in my country, the uneasiness and panic brought by the threat of hurricanes, early elections, economic collapse, these things, these disruptions is the materia prima for me.
Prominence, a space of prominence, has the privilege to ignore these things, or overlook it at least, as "their problem, not mine."
Say what you want about Yasser, whether or not he resides in a space of prominence, he like most of us who do not, and even like those who, though they belong to a place of prominence, look beyond the fantasy of it to the gritty reality, uses that uneasiness too, recognizes it as a reason to become self-determined. A reason to work.
And now that I am on the point of work, I will dwell here a bit. Work, that is what BINOMIUM is about. Both Yasser and Michael have worked, and worked and produced immense bodies of work, notwithstanding, or better yet in spite of class, race, age, and bigger than all those the thick blanket of apathy which chokes the artistic community in Belize. One which, even we, the artists, are responsible for weaving the extension and thickness of, through neglecting the gravity of the situation, or even through our own frustration, our own surrender.
It matters not whether the media will show up for the press conference, if only 5 people attend the exhibit, if only 20 likes are garnered on facebook, Yasser Musa and Michael Gordon will keep producing art, whether we consume or not, it will be there.
Strong, relevant, purposeful.
One could say art for art's sake. I don't think so. Art for art's sake is just that. There would be no agenda, no stock-taking, no personal demands on us, on themselves.
How many paintings has Michael Gordon painted? On August 15, 2014, Gilvano Swasey curated a display inside the Image Factory's gallery. Every wall was covered with work. Images from inside the eyes of Michael Gordon, how he sees things, people, life.
But guess what? That filled room, was not even a mere 1/4 of his body of work.
Here is an artist, who fiddles on, even as our country-ship sinks. Not for art's sake, but to show, that expression is still very much alive, and very much important, and believe it or not, still happening. (Thank goodness). If that is not self-determination, I have absolutely no clue what it is.
We can not throw our hands up and say, "well no one wants art." That is easy and that is untrue. We are art, what we eat, say, think and live is art. How on earth could we not want it?
BINOMIUM is a meeting of minds, a documentation of tireless, incessant work. A registry, proof of self-determination.