Brooklyn-born artist, creative director, and stylist Akeem Smith made a big statement with his debut solo exhibit titled “No Gyal Can Test,” an artful statement documenting the vibrancy of Dancehall-inspired style in Jamaica.
Opened on September 24, 2020 at Red Bull Arts gallery in New York, the multi-media exhibit combines archival photographs, videos and found objects. all of which are rooted in his time spent in Jamaica from 1985 through the early 2000s.
Playing with perspective, visuals center women with friends and family members as well as prominent figures of the Kingston dancehall community. The sensual expression of dance and style challenges the concept of the male gaze with pieces like “Soursop” (2020), a multi-monitor video installation of a Dancehall scene with upskirt shots and several women holding their crotches intentionally for the videographer.
Speaking on the theme of gaze, in an interview with the NY Times, Smith explained, “I’m isolating and playing with the idea of the gaze. Western culture talks a lot about the male gaze, but what about the colonial gaze or the female gaze? The optics of this piece are meant to illustrate the power of a female gaze, the power of commanding and demanding attention.”
“No Gyal Can Test” is on view at the Red Bull Arts gallery until November 5, 2020 at 220 West 18th Street in Manhattan.
Check out images from the event below.