Access key: wheelchair accessible, transcription (below).
Disya Dancehall is an installation by artist Linett Kamala that considers the place and the uses of Jamaican dancehall culture in creating and facilitating opportunities for enjoyment and celebration. The project stems from the lived experiences of those who were involved in dancehall’s golden era in North West London (1985–2000), including experiences from the artist’s own memories.
From this repository of stories and archives, Kamala presents a series of existent and new artworks that showcase dancehall’s role as an innovator of style, and as a form of resistance against dominant cultural norms. The Brent-based artist’s multidisciplinary project is set in a Jamaican takeaway installation, inspired by Super Cat’s dancehall classic, Vineyard Style. Central to the installation are a selection of paintings from Kamala’s Materialistic Gal series, last exhibited in 1999 at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning on Railton Road, in Brixton. These paintings form a visual archive exploring how identity was shaped by the women revellers who attended the dancehall parties, and who used their bold, confident and innovative fashions as a tool for self-determination.
Accompanying the paintings is an original soundscape that incorporates snippets of oral history interviews conducted with people who attended dancehall parties, such as the much-loved Uptown Splurt parties at Samatha’s nightclub run by Brent promoter and DJ Robbo Ranx. In the back room, the artist has created a space that takes its inspiration from the kitchen of Annie Thompson, Kamala’s mother. In this room, as well as in the serving tables at the front of the installation, visitors will experience different forms of “specials on the menu”; from days when snacks will be handed out, to small performances and takeaway posters and stickers. Throughout, Kamala seeks to create a space that feels like home, and where hospitality and dancehall are intrinsically bound.
Linett Kamala is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and carnivalist born in Harlesden, London, to Jamaican parents. Her passion for enriching the lives of others through festival culture is demonstrated by collaborations with numerous organisations and creatives spanning over 30 years. Linett works across various disciplines including mixed media paintings, murals and DJ soundscapes. She is credited with being one of the first female DJs to perform at the Notting Hill Carnival with Disya Jeneration sound system which 37 years later, she now manages. Linett is Founding Director of Lin Kam Art which enriches lives through festival culture via residencies, workshops, events and programmes.