Rewind/Forward: Honouring the goodness and bawdness of Jamaican music culture

Rewind/Forward: Honouring the goodness and bawdness of Jamaican music culture

Curated by Alanna Stuart (Bonjay, Queer Songbook Orchestra)

In-person Exhibition: until November 15, 2022 at 854 Bathurst Street, Toronto
Online Exhibition:

Toronto, the world’s third largest Jamaican diaspora, is now home to Rewind/Forward, an online and in-person public art exhibition calling attention to the city’s obscured soundsystem and bass music cultures. The project was conceptualized and developed by Bonjay’s Alanna Stuart, a Caribbean-Canadian music artist, curator and researcher, as a means to stimulate conversation on how we typically engage with the Jamaican cultural forms and legacies we’ve adopted.

The installation features monumental portraits, taken by Jamaican-Canadian photographer Jorian Charlton (Cooper Cole), of five notable Toronto selectors (DJs) and soundsystem owners: Heather “Live Wire” Bubb-Clarke, Tasha Rozez, Ace Dillinger, Nino Brown, and Bambii.

Together, their individual experiences offer a fuller view of local bass music culture: Bubb-Clarke established one of the earliest femme-owned soundsystems in Canada after emigrating from Jamaica in the 70s, and Rozez is one of the district’s only women soundclashers; meanwhile, DJs Ace Dillinger, Nino Brown, and Bambii have built more inclusive nightlife spaces centring queer Black, Brown and allied people.

“I intentionally made the photos large and loud so that the selectors — the people — parallel the magnitude of bass music culture’s undeniable presence in this city,” says Stuart of the project’s street-facing installation of printed images. “But I also want us to consider how the ways of being that are inherent to Jamaican and other immigrant cultures have become so enmeshed with Toronto daily life, they’ve become hidden or, even worse, forgotten.”

Part-retrospective, part-forecast — the Rewind/Forward website is an extended play on the in-person exhibit, and features mini-documentaries and audio stories spanning pre-Independence Jamaica to Toronto rave futures. Sign up for the Rewind/Forward monthly for a slow-and-steady series of custom music mixes, full-length audio stories, and invites to upcoming bashments.

Rewind/Forward is a part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art. The in-person exhibition runs until November 15, 2022. Located at 854 Bathurst St, a wheelchair accessible site with image descriptions; kiddie corner to Bathurst station, above the former home of One Love Vegetarian.

The Rewind/Forward website includes large fonts, image descriptions, and audio and video transcripts.

Learn more at | @rew_fwd on Instagram

About Alanna Stuart
Alanna Stuart is Caribbean-Canadian music artist, researcher, curator. Her Polaris Prize-nominated duo, Bonjay, creates and performs a bass heavy, soul-driven hybrid sound that the New York Times hailed as ‘Canadian Dancehall’. She is also a proud member of the Queer Songbook Orchestra.

Outside of the studio, Alanna conducts research in ‘diversity’ and ‘innovation’, and explores how creative industries engage with socially marginalized cultural producers around the world. Stuart is a Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab Fellow, Radio Starmaker Fund board member, and Queen’s Cultural Studies MA student.

About Jorian Charlton
Jorian Charlton (b. 1989, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) is a photographer working in portraiture. Her work focuses on Jamaican-Canadian culture through her personal experiences and that of her community, highlighting themes of Black family life, intimacy, community, and love. Charlton takes poetic approaches to her portraits, working with her models to create atmospheres, fashions, and poses that tell stories about Caribbean diasporas while addressing contemporary modes of Black representation.

Charlton earned a Bachelor of Photography at Sheridan College, and has exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gallery TPW, Patel Brown Gallery, and the 2021 edition of Arles Les Recontres de la Photographie. She has made public art projects including Untitled (Angaer) on Shaw Street with Critical Distance Centre for Curators and Wedge Curatorial Projects (2021); Whak, Mo and Angaer at 330 Bay Street with Toronto’s Year of Public Art (2021); and most recently Georgia at 460 King Street West with Contact Photography Festival (2022). Jorian Charlton currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.