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Dancehall ON SHOW at Art Basel

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Friday, November 10, 2017

Dancehall culture will have a presence at next month's Art Basel exhibition in Miami Beach. Sound system selector/show promoter Garfield “Chin” Bourne mounts a space there that shows the history and impact of sound systems on Jamaican music.

The exhibition runs December 7 – 10 at Miami Beach Convention Center. Bourne's exhibit is on opening day.

Known in New York City dancehall circles as a member of the Irish and Chin duo that promotes the successful World Clash series, Bourne told Jamaica Observer he was contacted by Art Basel promoters this year to stage a sound system exposť.

He had no second thoughts.

“Art Basel is one of the most respected art shows in the world. People from all over the world display their work there, it's an event of very high merit,” he said. “Having sound system culture displayed and Irish and Chin being able to be a part of that exhibit is a huge step not only for Irish and Chin brand, but for sound system culture. This art show has been held for many years without representation of dancehall or reggae, therefore it's definitely a step in the right direction for the culture.”

The Art Basel fair is shown annually in Basel, Switzerland; Hong Kong and Miami. Next month's show in Miami is the 16th time it will be held in that city.

It features 268 premier galleries from 32 countries.

Though the sound system had its genesis in the late 1940s in Kingston, Bourne plans to focus on periods many fans and musicologists consider the golden age of dancehall.

“My exhibit will entail artefacts from various sound systems from across the world. I am looking at some of the sound systems that made a mark in the '80s and '90s era of dancehall, which I believe is the most exciting era of dancehall,” he explained. “We will have memorabilia, ie dub plates amplifiers from recognisable 'sounds', whether juggling 'sounds' or clash 'sounds' that have made an impact and made their mark.”

He added, “We are looking to see if we can get those distinctive clothing that may have been worn by these artistes like a Pinchers or Shabba (Ranks). So it could be a Clarke's (shoes), a bell foot (pants), a silk shirt, or fresh linen suit.”

Bourne was born in the United States to Jamaican parents. He and Irish have staged dancehall/reggae shows such as World Clash and Vintage Rumble, mainly in the Big Apple, for nearly 20 years.

He also hosts a weekly radio show that covers the Tri-State (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) area.