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Upcoming exhibition examines the ‘Bahamian Superhero’

What would a Bahamian superhero look like?  Would they be more Superman, or more Hancock?  Where would they get their powers — like Popeye’s spinach, would they gain a boost of strength from Bamboo Shack?
That’s what Jay Koment, director of New Providence Art and Antiques on East Street in downtown Nassau, hopes to examine in his upcoming show in time to celebrate the 38th anniversary of Bahamian Independence.
“The idea behind the show basically came from this annual string on these superhero movies, many of which are based on characters that really date to even a pre –World War Two era to a Cold War era in terms of their thought process and in terms of their interests,” he explains.  “We’re still dealing with the same set of characters that have been around for 50 years.  I mean, what’s new?  There must be some new interest.”
“And then to me I’m watching all these movies based in the Bahamas—how come there aren’t a whole pantheon of Bahamian superheroes?” he adds.
So he posed the question to the wider public a few weeks ago.  What he’s aiming for in the tone of the show, however, is more humor than a serious examination—less “Dark Knight”, more “Green Hornet.”
“I like sarcasm, I like comedy and irony,” he says.  “So this is what I’m going after in this particular show.  You can take it and intellectualize it and make it important and puffy and everything, so I made a conscious decision to not do that.”
Humor is a great mask itself, however, concealing the secret identity of true intentions below the surface, which in this case may tap into society’s thoughts about the current crime rates and political turbulence.
“I was trying to really avoid it on that level, on a conscious level.  On a subconscious level, there’s always something else because on a subconscious level is where people’s fears come out and therfore what they think they need or want will come out,” he says.  “It’s insidious in its way — I’m asking people to be really fun and funny about it but I’m really curious on the other hand to see what people are thinking — what their hopes are and what their fears are.  That to me is the real anthropological side of this whole exercise that I’m really interested in too.”
So far, he says, the response has been good.  In fact, he’s extended the deadline for submissions until July 5th — only two days away from the actual opening on the night of 7th.   What’s interesting thus far is he’s received a lot of material from more comic book drawing artists, which rarely get attention here in Nassau, so the show should provide an interesting platform into the current comic drawing scene especially.
But, he stresses, he’s open to any media, from photography to panting to sculpture and video — even costume and performance.
“Someone asked if he was going to be the only one in tights, so I’d like to say we’re going to maintain all secret identities,” he jokes.  “You can come in your tights and wear a mask and no one has to know it’s you.  We accept costume as well.  You can dress up, you can do whatever you want.  If you’re really good at it you can come in costume, bring your Bamboo Shack, eat it, and do whatever you have to do. “
If that’s the case, the exhibition promises to be as hilarious as it may be thought-provoking, and, according to Jay, may spark a series of shows further exploring this rather uncharted theme.
Interested persons can still submit work to Jay Koment until July 5th by calling 328-7916 or e-mailing  Show opens July 7th at 6 pm at new Providence Art and Antiques.  See today’s Arts Calendar for more details.

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