The Mona Lisa Effect: Curated by Francesca Gavin

The internet, NFT’s, and memes: what do all of these things have to do with digital art and its consumption? The Mona Lisa Effect seeks to answers these questions, through a live-streamed auction championing artists of the new digital era.

Taking its inspiration from Darian Leader’s book Stealing the Mona Lisa (2002), where he argued that the theft of Leonardo’s painting was the cause for its universal popularity. The absence of the piece became the enigma, which built up the anticipation for when it returned.  

James Kerr/Scorpion Dagger Pointers (2021). Courtesy of the artist and CNL.

The artists featured in the exhibition embody the task of displaying a reinvigoration in the consumption of art in the digital space. Sarah Judy, James ‘Scorpion Dagger’ Kerr, Damien Roach, and Thomas Webb all explore the binary of absence and presence – balancing between the two ideas, and in some way, finding a point where they meet in the middle.

This exhibition is led by curator and co-founder of Manifesta11: Francesca Gavin, known for her editor position at LIMBO, contributions at the Financial Times How to Spend It, and widely for her book Watch This Space which delves into how digital screens have a direct impact on society, culture, and the self.

Damien Roach, ‘Nothing (Sink Hole)’, from the series Four Types of Nothing (2021). Courtesy of the artist and CNL. (Still)

The live exhibition is set to take place on 30th May 2021 at 2pm (GMT) and will be hosted on Croy Nielsen and Emanuel Layr’s gallery site cnl.casa

Header image credits: Thomas Webb, Art Kids Online (2021). Courtesy of the artist and CNL.

Eva Alt celebrates mature ballet artistry

Considered by many to be the first art, dance came before language: early humans communicated and expressed themselves through gesture and bodily movement. After all, dancers know that how you are in your body relates to how you are in your mind and how you move through the world. 

And in today’s increasingly saturated world of communications, it is rare to find someone who understands this and can merge a passion for communication, community and dance poetically. 

Eva Alt, Ballet1

Cue Eva Alt. Perhaps known to many on Instagram, as Glossier’s doe-eyed former Head of Social Media, Alt has, over the past few years, not only become known for building Glossier’s digital presence, but also managed to enchant New York’s fashion and beauty scene with her charme, wit and with her passion for dance. 

“It always seemed to me, as a person who is a “feeler”, that through dance and watching dance, I was able to inuit things that you can’t necessarily express with words. There’s power in that,” she stated during a Zoom call from her apartment in New York City. “So there is something very honest about communicating through gestures and, you know, you can’t lie!”

Eva Alt, Ballet1

A former professional ballerina, Alt’s trajectory into the world of ballet started when she was a little girl, realizing she wanted to get into dance seriously around the age of 11 or 12. After a brief summer stint at The School of American Ballet in New York, at 15 she auditioned for the Boston Ballet and was accepted. This then led to years of strenuous training in the Balanchine method by a former principal of The New York City Ballet. 

However, the world of ballet can be especially tough for young adolescent girls growing up and getting to know their bodies. 

Eva Alt, Ballet1

“In dance, at fifteen not only are you going through puberty but that’s also the moment when you start partnering. And all of a sudden your body is changing and it’s also being handled by the male dancers and that’s a very odd experience,” she recalls. 

And while many stereotypes regarding how a dancer’s body should look have now been broken, looking back, she wishes she had the knowledge she has now of her body. A lot of ballet is about the perception of line, and growing more self-aware of her form with time, has helped Alt embrace her body instead of working against it. 

“One of the things that continually amazes me about the human body, and through dance I am so in tune with my body and myself, is that we are changing all the time. We are constantly making new cells and regenerating. My body feels very different one day to the next! Yet, somehow, the body stores memories,” she quips. 

Alt stayed with the company until she decided to take a break and try out different things. This break then led her to fashion and after interning at a few publications and assisting a few stylists, she was then hired by Emily Weiss to work on Social Media at Glossier, and was there for six years, until she left this year to pursue her own personal projects. 

Yet, dance was always lurking around the corner and never really abandoned her in time of need. However, it was only after she joined Moves, her friends’ jazz class that she felt ready to get back to dancing full time and became what she believes is a truly rare being: a happy dancer.

“When I was returning to dance and getting in shape, in a lot of ways I felt like I was waking up again. My body wanted to remember the feeling of these movements, and in a lot of ways, it did.”

Eva Alt, Ballet1

It was then she decided she would create her very own ballet class open to all levels: Ballet1. The class proved to be so popular because of its diverse and inclusive spirit it attracted dancers from every borough of New York, and it also helped Alt discover her ultimate purpose: creating a safe and happy space for a diverse community of individuals passionate about dance who may not necessarily be professionals.

A class at Ballet1 pre Covid-19

“My purpose in ballet is that of creating more space for people. And something that is really important to me is performance, specifically for mature ballet dancers, or mature dancers. In a former company, there are lots of amazing dancers who dance for many years and then retire. I feel like there are things like broader life experiences, motherhood, you know, going to school, a job, whatever it is, that add something really valuable to people’s artistry and I feel like there is really no context for that idea to exist. I want to create that. I want to create a platform for mature ballet artistry. So that’s something that is going to be pretty central to the project,” she concludes.

Eva Alt, Ballet1

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Drag in the desert: A photo series by Jane Hilton

Of all the people and places photographer Jane Hilton has documented over the past three decades there is one location that she can’t quite shake – Nevada. The sweeping desert state in America’s west is of course home to the brash and bawdy Las Vegas, but beyond the neon lights there is a grainier side of life she is drawn to.

The London-based photographer first travelled to the States in 1988, sparking a fascination with all things Americana that would become a hallmark of her career.

“I just fell in love with it,” she says of that first visit which took her to Tucson, Arizona.

 “It was like being in a film. It was those 180-degree, blue sky vistas, and the sunsets, and the light – it was the light! I’m so passionate about lighting and they’ve got it there, “god’s light”. They might not have got other things right but they’ve got the light.”

In 1992 she first visited Nevada on a job shooting the desert landscape, which covers the majority the state. Nevada is home to both Las Vegas and Area 51, with a transient allure that, beyond the casino tourists, attracts a myriad of characters often looking to either get rich or get lost. Over the past 25 years the photographer has documented many of the people that often inhabit the fringes of the place, including burlesque dancers, cowboys and sex workers.

“It’s in stark contrast to the way I was brought up in English suburbia. I think had I gone to New York first, I might have a different relationship with America. I’m more interested in the American west and the way that genre (of Westerns) has played out.”

It was the Western genre that inspired her latest project, Drag Queen Cowboys, which was recently shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious Sony World Photography Awards. Drag Queen Cowboys is a series of black and white portraits of Las Vegas drag performers in Western-inspired costumes shot out in the desert. Hilton was largely inspired by 1961 film The Misfits, written by Arthur Miller and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Montgomery Cliff. In it, Monroe plays a recently divorced woman who meets an aging cowboy, Gable, and his friend, played by Cliff.

Since its release the film has been trailed by a macabre notoriety due to the death of all three stars within five years of its release. Gable died of a heart attack ten days after filming wrapped; Monroe of a suspected drug overdose some 18 months later; Cliff’s health deteriorated and he was dead by 1966. It was the last film Gable and Monroe ever made, and it is said that Miller’s marriage to Monroe was also a casualty of the film. Despite the playwright specifically writing the part for her, their relationship disintegrated during the lengthy and over-budget shoot.

“Arthur Miller himself went to Reno to get divorced so he could marry Marilyn. There were all these divorce ranches on the outskirts of Reno where people wait and have a good time while they are waiting,” Hilton explains.

“In the thirties and forties they were full of mostly housewives because their husbands had sent them there to get a divorce within six weeks, which was unheard of. They’d do that, then party with some cowboys while they had left the husband at home with his mistress.”

“So Miller went there because he knew about getting a divorce in Reno and the strange displacement of people who go to Nevada looking for a new life. Whether they are hiding from something, or trying to find something… In all my experience that is how Nevada is for me too; it’s people searching or trying to cover something up.”

After discovering the strange legacy of the legendary film, in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit, Hilton drove a handful of drag performers in their stage makeup and Western outfits in her ’66 Mustang to an isolated stretch of desert on the outskirts of Vegas.

“I was looking for another community, a different community, that I could document, one I didn’t know much about,” she explains of the process of choosing her subjects.

“I started to go to drag bingo in Vegas and got to know some of the girls. I was thinking about how they are perceived and how post-Ru Paul, social media has gone mad with drag queens. They are always literally lit with flash, it’s so artificial, with so much retouching or a filter, so that their imagery looks almost homogenous because of the way they all photograph themselves. I decided I wasn’t going to do that.”

Instead, Hilton photographed each performer in natural light, shooting on a 5×4 plate camera and black and white film, with no flash or retouching. Rather than just being passive subjects the performers worked with Hilton on creating the visuals, each creating their own Western-inspired outfit for the shoot. By removing the drag performers from their usual environment, that of a dimly lit bar or nightclub or karaoke stage, the portraits subvert the type of image often associated with drag performers and create a contrary energy that is both powerful and poignant, and typical of Hilton’s work.

Jane Hilton, United Kingdom, Finalist, Professional competition, Portraiture, Sony World Photography Awards 2021

As a documentarian she has long been drawn to sub-cultures; in 2000 the BBC commissioned a ten-part documentary from her about two brothels in Nevada, the only US state in which sex work is legal. She has spent the past few years filming the ‘The Last Lion Tamer’, following a family’s fight to save their livelihood as the government moves to outlaw the use of wild animals performing in circuses. Currently the photographer is riding out lockdown in her London home working on various projects, eager to start shooting again. As always, there is one place in particular she is waiting to revisit.

“I am doing a book about the state of Nevada because I’ve spent a lot of time here – almost too much time! No matter where I go, I seem to end up back there…”

Jane Hilton is a finalist in the Sony World Photography Awards 2021: Professional Competition. Overall winners will be announced on 15th April 2021. www.worldphoto.org/

Header image credits: Jane Hilton, United Kingdom, Finalist, Professional competition, Portraiture, Sony World Photography Awards 2021

Ekene Ijeoma: Breathing Pavillion

A sanctuary carved out of a time of intense loss and hardships, “Breathing Pavilion” is Ekene Ijeoma’s debut outdoor installation. In collaboration with Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) and Van Alen Institute, the installation will be available to view in The Plaza at 300 Ashland, in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Cultural District, from 16th March – 11th May 2021.

Ekene Ijeoma as an artist and professor of Media Arts and Science at MIT, fuses his research in social inequality across various fields and his own experiences to create thought-provoking and inviting artwork. Breathing Pavilion was created in the context of Covid-19 and in the wake of rising concerns over the rampant police brutality and violence against black Americans. Ijeoma poetically reframes these social issues, and in the process reveals the stark reality of how these forms of oppression intersect.

The installation comprises a 30-foot circle of 20 nine-foot two-tone illuminated LED inflatable columns which gradually change in brightness and mimic a deep breathing technique, meant to trigger a meditative feeling of calm. The structure invites the public to enjoy a moment of respite, losing themselves in the lull of the lights allowing them to breathe, without feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders.

“Between the ongoing struggles in the racial and political movements in the United States and the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to find the time and space to breathe deeply and rest well […] I held my breath for most of last year, waiting to exhale into a new administration and new vaccines. It will still take some time before we see large-scale change. Until then, in these next few weeks, this pavilion is here to invite the public to breathe into the change within each of us, in sync with one another.” – Edward Ijeoma, creator behind Breathing Pavilion.

Ekene Ijeoma, Breathing Pavilion (2021) Rendering

Breathing Pavilion will be unveiled on 16th March 2021 and will feature a performance from Grammy-award-winning musician Keyon Harold, who will perform a trumpet solo. The piece performed by Harold will emulate the contemplative nature of Ijeoma’s structure and will be the first performance of many throughout the installation’s duration in Brooklyn.

“As we head into spring, outdoor public spaces remain at the core of our shared experience and Breathing Pavilion will serve as artwork with intention that can bring us together at a time when we must remain physically distanced. This innovative installation stands out as an entirely unique public art project that offers a much-needed moment for reflection after a challenging year. We look forward to sharing this thoughtful new public art project with our community.” – Regina Myer, President of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

To find out more about Breathing Pavilion, visit vanalen.org

Header image credits: Ekene Ijeoma, Breathing Pavilion (2021) Rendering

The Photographers Capturing Ireland Through a Queer Lens

Ireland has undergone tumultuous social change in the past three decades. The queer creatives who have come of age during this period are seeking to change the narrative when it comes to documenting LGBTQI lives.

The nineties were punctuated by a slew of queer pop culture moments that are still referenced today for their bolshy, unashamed arrival into the mainstream. KD Lang and Cindy Crawford indulged in a homoerotic barber shop sitting on the cover of Vanity Fair; talk show queen Ellen came out live on TV, and even the soaps, that most pedestrian of pop culture institutions, featured the first gay character and lesbian kiss on Brookside in 1994.

These iconic moments gave the impression that queerness was slowly but surely creeping from the fringes into a suburban sort of conventionality, but real life for LGBTQI people was far from that. In Ireland, still a social conservative country in the hedonistic nineties, homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1993. The Catholic church had an iron grip on many institutions (and indeed, still does) including the public school system and many hospitals.

Conservative and liberal ideology would continue to clash for the next few decades, culminating in the 2015 referendum that brought in same-sex marriage, and the 2018 one that legalised abortion. It was against this backdrop of seismic social change that a generation of queer kids were brought up, sort of as changelings of the Old and New Ireland. Now in their twenties, Gen Z and young Millennial creatives have a particular viewpoint of how they want to document and express the experiences of LGBTQI people.

Donal Talbot, 25, is a model-turned-photographer whose work has featured in publications including i-D and The Face. Most recently his portraits were chosen by Benjamin Wolberg for his latest book, new queer photography, which showcases work from breakout and established queer photographers from around the world.

Home project, photo by Eoin Greally

“My work tends to challenge how we, as a culture, see things like intimacy and queerness, and how those things correlate. There’s a softness and stillness that I try to capture in my portraits that aims to rewrite a narrative about how queer people communicate and interact with each other,” Donal says.

“I find a lot of inspiration from meeting people in gay bars and queer spaces but I’m interested in seeing what happens past that; the still moments of capturing someone after the lights go down in the club, or the day after a party in someone’s house.”

The photographer studied at Ireland’s foremost art school, the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, and it was in his final year that he found his medium.

“For my final project I knew I wanted to do work around queer narratives, but I didn’t have an idea of how to do that. I was in drag going to a boxing ring, then I started to take pictures and realised that was what I like. The project came together in the last two months and it was a portrait series of around ten different LGBT and queer people I had met. I photographed and interviewed them and that springboarded me into the art I make today.”

Eoin Greally is a 23-year-old from rural Ireland who has already carved out an impressive career in fashion and portraiture photography. While back in the family home during lockdown, the young photographer began working piecemeal on a project that has evolved into a cathartic reflection of his own journey as a young queer person. His rural upbringing, once something that he feared, has given him a unique perspective on how he has evolved both creatively and personally.

“At first I didn’t know it was going to be a project, they were images I was simply collecting. It’s a lot of portraiture, and also trying to capture the essence of my home. There’s that idea when people ask, are you going home, or are you going ‘home home’?” he explains.

“Now I’m piecing together the images I have realised there is a huge queer perspective but it’s not the typical gay male perspective from a gay mecca like New York. It’s all about a place I was afraid of growing up. I was in rural Ireland and I was afraid of being queer.”

“I was lucky, I always had support from my family about being queer but it still came with its discomfort. A lot of the focus is on my dad – he’s my favourite person to photograph, but also because he was the only person I was afraid of disappointing by being queer. I never received that sentiment from him, it was totally coming from what I thought I had to be afraid of. This project definitely has helped getting rid of some of that discomfort. It was something I largely put there myself, and now I’ve been able to take it away but it needed time. It’s been a healing project.”

While lockdown has given rise to a lot of creative output, it has also stalled many planned projects and events. 22-year-old photographer and sociology student Niamh Barry was on the cusp of launching her exhibition, ‘Queer Hearts of Dublin’ last October until yet another lockdown was announced. The exhibition is a range of portraits of queer people Niamh met mostly through a casting call on Instagram, with the aim of documenting as diverse a group as possible; “It was about reconnecting to my queer community but also so that people knew it wasn’t just a white male perspective (of queerness). The image is different to what people think. I wanted to collaborate with people who wanted to tell their story but it was also intersectional- it was a new narrative but yet one that’s always been there,” she says.

“I reached out people on Instagram and that’s how I met one of my subjects, Mimi. Her story was really interesting. She is a black queer woman and hearing her experience was amazing. She’s two years younger than me but so confident; I was almost surprised by her confidence in those moments because at the same time she was telling how hard it was to grow up where she lives, which is a small country town, very inward looking.”

“She told what it’s like growing up as a black woman in Ireland and what it’s like to not really have representation, especially also being queer. That experience made me realise that this type of story is not being told in Ireland.”

The resulting portraits are intimate and raw, quietly communicating what it means to be queer and young and living in Ireland at this moment in time. It’s a sentiment that Eoin echoes when considering his next chapter in his work.

Home project, photo by Eoin Greally

“I have realised my privilege within the queer community – I am a white, queer, cis gay male. I don’t by any means think that’s a bad thing but being a photographer gives me an opportunity to uplift other sides of the queer community that didn’t always get the limelight.

“What’s important to me now is focussing on the groups in the queer community that don’t always get the opportunity to speak. It’s still a work in progress, but that’s what I want to dedicate my time to now.”

Header image credits: Ming and their significant other Aisling, photographed by Niamh Barry

International Women’s Day: Female Voices of Latin América

In celebration of International Women’s Month, the digital art exhibition site: Vortic is set to host the first iteration of Female Voices of Latin América. This will showcase the work of over 150 living female artists from across the region, with 19 countries being represented across the board. The exhibition will be shown at over 60 galleries and institutions and will be launched on 8th March, the official date of International Women’s Day.

For so long, Latin-American artists have gone underrepresented in the art world nationally, with only a few names being highlighted. This exhibition aims to bring these artists to the forefront across generations, with artwork that spans from 1968 to the present day. Works from established artists like Liliana Porter and Adriana Varejão will be honoured alongside newer generation talent such as Sofía Clausse, Patricia Domínguez, and Nohemí Pérez.

“Madres adolescents”, 1988-1990 by Adriana Lestido. Silver gelatin print on fibre paper. Courtesy of the Artist and Rolf Art Gallery.

Galleries that will be participating include Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Museo Tamayo and Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo amongst a plethora of others established institutions. The initiative is all encompassing and will allow for collaboration and an exchange of ideas between galleries, whilst also exposing viewers to a range of diverse and talented Latin American artists.

“Sobre Isaacs”, 1989 by Karen Lamassonne. Acrylic on paper (116 x 85cm). Courtesy of the artist and Instituto de Visión.

“We have grown tired of not seeing female artists from Latin America receive the recognition they deserve in their own lifetime. As a platform, Voices of Latin America plays a well-deserved tribute to those with a remarkable artistic trajectory as well as promoting the current and next generation of artists. This presentation has been made possible by working hand in hand with the galleries, museums and non-profits in and out of Latin America that have contributed to develop the expanding arts scene. The future of our industry will rely on exchange, mutual support and collaboration. Through meaningful and memorable initiatives like this one, we aim to contribute to the art landscape in an impactful way”. – Elena Saraceni, Curatorial Director, Voices of Latin América and Special Projects
Consultant at Vortic

These shows will be hosted on the Vortic website, where they maintain efforts to support galleries and institutions by using cutting-edge technology to provide an immersive digital and physical experience of viewing art. The exhibition will be available to view from March 8th to May 2nd, 2021. Visit vortic.art

Header image credits: “Beatriz y Chelle en cuarentena” by Bernadette Despujols. Oil on canvas (39.4 x 29.9 inch). Courtesy of the artist.

‘Automatiste’: An AI x Art Collaboration Presented by Ania Catherine and Dejha Ti

Award-winning, LA-based art, and tech duo Ania Catherine and Dejha Ti have collaborated with Chinese gender-neutral luxury brand Mithridate to create Automatiste. The multimedia showcase will be part of Mithridate’s SS21 presentation at London Fashion Week on 22nd February 2021. This marks the second collaboration between the brand and the duo after their 35-minute immersive performance instillation “I’d rather be in a dark silence than” (2020) at London’s Serpentine Galleries.

Automatiste takes root in the French adjective which describes the Surrealist Automatism, a method of art making which suppresses the conscious mind, allowing the unconscious mind to have great control. The piece will work to provide viewers globally with an immersive experience, with portals that explore the richness, danger, beauty, and raw nature of the subconscious. The production will weave through the digital world through the AI integration, used to represent the chance operations and inner-workings of the mind.

The art piece is a full production incorporating performance art, interactive film, augmented reality, poetry, and web design amongst a plethora of other forms of media. The team is spread across countries and cities, including LA, Shanghai, Istanbul, London, Washington DC, Baltimore and Rome.  

Ania Catherine and Dejha Ti commented, “We cherish being trusted so fully by Mithridate, and that trust is bleeding into the rest of our phenomenal team, who are all pushing the boundaries with their own contributions to make an experience that we all believe will mark a new chapter in the history of fashion, art, and technology. We want to show that digital-only doesn’t need to mean second rate and everyone shouldn’t be sitting around waiting for the ‘real thing’ to happen again. This is the real thing. It’s thrilling to us that anyone with internet access can take this journey with us, share digital space and be introduced to Mithridate’s collection through our art.”

Other featured artists include musician Tony Cruise, XR artist Aaron XR artist Aaron Jablonski, 3D artist Curry Tian, and Immersive Kind Studios. The amalgamation of some of the most advanced technology used in fashion to date, and the raw artistic energy: Automatiste is a showcase that utilises the power of technology as a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

To view the boundary-pushing work, visit automatiste.mithridate.uk

Karon Davis: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

1969. A Chicago courtroom. Political activist and author Bobby Seale is on trial as part of the Chicago 8, a group of seven defendants charged by the United States federal government with conspiracy, crossing state lines with intent to incite a riot, and other crimes relating to the anti-Vietnam war efforts. During the trial, federal judge Julius Hoffman orders for Bobby Seale to be physically gagged. The episode was not photographed, however the court sketches leave a scathing mark etched into the memory of anyone that lays their eyes on them. This image was burrowed deeply in artist Karon Davis psyche, leaving a haunting scar as a reminder of the historical violence against black bodies in America.

Karon Davis’ No Good Deed Goes Unpunished is direct reference to the pillory of the Black Panther Party by the government and the relentless harassment they received. During the 1960s, the public were cajoled into believing damaging and skewed ideologies about the party and their place in the community. Davis’ uses her work to take back that power, presenting the reality in a raw and unfiltered manner. Her own connection to the Chicago 8 case intensifies the impact of the sculpture, as one of her father’s first acting jobs was reading out Bobby Seale’s transcript.

The frozen tableau sculpture is a haunting image, as Davis used life casts of friends and family with casts of her own body parts, with sections missing to emphasis the ghostly nature. The mummified sculpted bags of groceries which sit in front of the tableau are representative of the Black Panther party’s free food programme which was for the black community in Oakland, California; Karon describes these bags as a “garden of golden fruit”.

Davis’ work strives to catch the “in-between” state which captures the soul. Much of her work presents black bodies and their stories – the joy, the trauma, the complexities. The brokenness of the work and the missing pieces, are a reference to the internal brokenness of the black victims of police brutality and violence. Although this trial took place decades ago, the reality of the discrimination and disenfranchisement of black people in America is still rampant.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished is Karon Davis’s first solo exhibition in New York. The show will be available for viewing from March 6th – April 24th 2021. To find out more about the exhibition, visit Deitch.com

Nokukhanya Langa: “Baby, I’m not even here. I’m a hallucination.”

Presented by Ballon Rouge: Nokukhanya Langa “Baby, I’m not even here. I’m a hallucination” is an exhibition and experience in one; it showcases the emotional state of being, both the imaginary and the tangible.

Nokukhanya Langa was born in 1991, Maryland, USA and currently lives and works in Groningen, Netherlands, and Ghent, Belgium. The majority of her work resides in painting, with abstract themes explored within her distinct and vibrant artwork. She also explores repetitive patterns, symbols, and letters akin to graffiti tagging, which allows her work to exist between different planes – sophisticated and grounded.

Nokukhanya’s work is framed by her use of subversive language and artwork with different mediums and textures, which pulls from layers of private histories, political and cultural undertones, and allegories.    

Layered with hidden meanings and tongue-in-cheek references that are littered throughout, her work points to various political expressions. Her use of colloquial, everyday terms plays on humorous elements, which heightens the personal connection within her work; it is unapologetically her. This presentation of her work and her use of approachable language makes room for the artwork to convey subtle subtext, forming a “hallucinatory reality” (Ballon Rouge).

The exhibition will be live from February 25th – March 27th 2021.

For more information, visit BallonRougeCollective.com

Jadé Fadojutimi – ‘Jesture’

Presented by Pippy Houndslow Gallery: ‘Jesture’ features a collection of artwork by London-based artist Jadé Fadojutimi. The artwork has been sourced from Fadojutimi’s 2020 repertoire, with much of the work featured in her solo exhibition last October; this her first published book. The publication also comes with a text by editor-at-large at frieze magazine: Jennifer Higgie, titled ‘From Life – Thoughts on the paintings of Jadé Fadojutimi’.

Fadojutimi work touches on a variety of subject matters, exhibiting the absurd in the disruption of the norm, through the jarring quarantines and lockdowns. Much of her work also tackles questions around identity and the fluidity that resides within it and the power and pleasure of nostalgia. Fadojutimi is known for using the soundtracks from films, animation, and video games to transport her to different places in her mind, which she then captures in her work

‘Globules of paint erupt like buds from the ground. These pictures seem like a garden in spring or a choppy sea; at times, the mood is so exuberant that it appears to be on the brink of exploding. Colours pulse like a bass line given centre stage. It’s clear: paint is an organic substance, as replete with possibility as newly composted earth.’ – Jennifer Higgie

Her work is layered with oil paints and pastels which creates textures that exist allow the work to exist in an artistic limbo – neither abstract nor literal. This level of depth draws audiences to her work, alongside the vibrant colours and patterns.

Jadé Fadojutimi: Jesture is co-published by Pippy Houldsworth Gallery and Anomie Publishing.

It may be ordered from WaterstonesAmazonCasemate UK, and Casemate US.

Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon 2021: Yinka Shonibare CBE RA

World-renowned artist Yinka Shonibare is to be presented with the Art Icon award, supported by the Swarovski foundation. Shonibare is one of eight artists who have received this award since its inception in 2003. This prestigious honouring will take place on 22nd March 2021 in a virtual gala celebration, and will be hosted by the director of Whitechapel Gallery: Iwona Blazwick OBE.

Yinka Shonibare is a name that instantly recognised worldwide. His work explores a range of subject matters: from race, colonialism and class systems. Born in 1962 in London, he moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three and returned to the UK to study Fine Art, first at Byam School of Art (now Central Saint Martins College) and then at Goldsmiths College.

His signature medium is Dutch wax batik fabric, a material inspired by Indonesian designs, manufactured in Holland and appropriated by West Africans colonies. This fabric is woven by Shonibare into intricate and eye-catching artwork that questions identity, both contemporary culture and nationalism in relation to globalisation. Shonibare was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004, and his work Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, was the 2010 Fourth Plinth Commission in Trafalgar Square. It is now on permanent display at The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Iwona Blazwick said: “Yinka Shonibare is a truly exceptional artist and is an exemplary Art Icon. His vividly clothed figurative sculptures, the Hogarthian scenarios he creates as installations and photographs, and his beautiful films celebrate African culture while exposing the legacies of race and empire. Globally celebrated Shonibare also supports younger generations of artists in Britain and Africa; both his artistic legacy and his charitable initiatives will resonate for years to come.”

The ceremony will be graced with a musical performance by four-time Grammy award winner Angélique Kidjo, amongst other live performances throughout the night. Artwork donated from leaded contemporary artists will be put up for auction, and the proceeds will go towards Whitechapel’s programme which continues to support the youth programme and educational activities. Whitechapel’s Youth Programme has helped to support and empower 4,000 artists the ability to explore contemporary art and meet creative professionals.

The event committee will include the likes of Aki Abiola, Sir David Adjaye, and Nadja Swarovski, amongst a plethora of other high profile attendees.

Nadja Swarovski commented: “The Swarovski Foundation is delighted to continue its support of the Whitechapel Gallery and the Art Icon award, which this year honours an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to our cultural life. Yinka Shonibare’s work is strikingly beautiful and exerts a profound emotional power whilst exploring issues such as race, power and identity. Through his charitable programmes, Shonibare’s support of the next generation of artists and to cultural exchange have been equally impactful.”

Visit Whitechapelgallery.org to find out more.

Art Basel Miami Beach 2020 – Pippy Houldsworth Gallery Presentation

A celebration of thought provoking and eclectic work – this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach Exhibition introduces the work of artists across different generations. Presented by Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, this all-female exhibition brings together works that explore different subject matters and as captioned on the site “initiates a dialogue between feminist icons and the younger generation, reflecting the programme as a whole”. 

Although the presentation is usually held in person, the show will include ‘viewing rooms’, where the public can wonder around in virtual rooms that showcase digitalised versions of each artist’s work. The line-up includes the likes of Mary Kelly, a staple figure in feminist art, Ming Smith’s street photography which focused its lens on African American’s in the 1970’s, and work from Jacqueline de Jong who was an editor for the experimental platform The Situationist Times. 

The talent does not stop there, with the inclusion of prolific work from the younger generation. Highlights from painters Jadé Fadojutimi and Stefanie Heinze, the vibrant portraiture of Wangari Mathenge, Zoë Buckman’s repurposed textiles and the hypnotic oil on linen pieces by Angela Heisch. These works were created specifically for the fair and offer a deep dive into each artist’s psyche – how they postulate change, their ideas on identity, and how their individual work connects to larger ideas. 

In an exclusive interview, Zoë Buckman and Wangari Mathenge sat down with Twin Magazine and revealed some of their thoughts surrounding their work, the exhibition itself, and the ways they have continued to create during this turbulent time. 

Zoë Buckman, Lilith, 2020, boxing gloves, vintage textiles and chain
Photo: Thomas Müller

Zoë Buckman:she would use that cloth to make a sling, it stings, 2020’ and ‘Eyes Closing Now, 2020’

How does it feel to be a part of an all-female art exhibition? 

I was so excited when I saw that. Also those artists, the ones Pippy has selected, I am just delighted to be in such esteemed company. I know and really admire Ming Smith, we’re kind of a part of the same community here in the art world in New York, and I have obviously been a long admirer of hers. But also for me, Mary Kelly is a big one too because I actually studied her work at school, and I have her books and she has been a massive inspiration to me as I have attempted to juggle being an artist but also a mother. I’m getting to know the other artists on Pippy’s programme and it’s exciting. 

I have noticed that you use boxing gloves quite often in your work – why did you choose this medium for this piece and this exhibition? 

I’m really interested in the space in between polarised states. And I think that conversation or that tension between the stereotypically masculine and the stereotypically feminine, has always been a really interesting terrain for me to make art from. I do box [and] for a particular time in my life it was very formative for me because it gave me a space to work through both feelings of frustration and anger about what was going on politically in the world at the time. This was in 2016 in the run-up to the general election here in the States. I just began to really feel that there was this mounting war on women against our rights, and our body, and our body autonomy. It was also when there was a lot being circulated about rape, and scoring different experiences of rape against each other. It was a time where I was finding my feet as an artist in the art world, which is a very male dominated arena. In a way the boxing gym gave me a space to work through certain personal traumas, but it also gave me practice at learning how to hold my own and take up space, and even take space away from others. 

Visually boxing and iconography, like boxing gloves are very interesting to me because a lot of my work does look at masculinity, aggression and violence. So using boxing gloves but reworking them with these domestic feminine textiles, and often placing so that one is balancing on the other and bringing a kind of fragility to something that is stereotypically quite masculine and resilient.

The phrase “it stings” has also been used in your work prior. What does this statement mean in your work? 

A lot of the texts that I use in my work, both the titles, for what I write and embroider, that is taken from this ongoing poem that I’m writing. The poem is called “show me your bruises then” and it weaves together snippets of conversations or memories, or things that women have said to me, or even things that men have said to me. A lot of the text is from my own experiences with relationships with men. But that particular line it used to be “it stings, I sob”, that was taken from a play my mother wrote about her experience [of] coming on her period for the first time. 

In the Jewish tradition, the matriarch of the family will slap the young woman across the face the first time she gets her period. And so that was obviously this deeply problematic ritual for women, at least for my Mum she didn’t know what was happening to her body, and she didn’t know she was going to get slapped in the face by her grandmother. It’s this way of using a violent act to mark a significant time in a woman’s life. She found that, and therefore I find that really interesting and problematic. 

I also merged that with another piece of text which said “Mama would use that cloth to cook and clean, and she would use that cloth to make a sling”. She was talking about her grandmother in the kitchen using these tea towels in all these different ways. When a kid broke his arm, she would use that cloth to make a sling, but she would also use that cloth to tend to her own black eye. This line “it stings” for me, I’m sort of looking at the feminist experience. You can apply that “it stings, I sob” to coming on you period the first time, to losing your virginity, to experiencing violence, to experiencing heartbreak: it just seems so universal to me.  

As an artist and creator, do you believe your art has an obligation to tackle wider socio-political subjects? 

I try to veer away from any feelings of obligation because I feel they can limit the creative process. But I was brought up with this example of art being something that is used to examine or attempt to change the status quo. I personally will always use my art to do that. I think it’s something that I just intuitively want to do, and do. But I don’t feel like I am obligated. 

How does your art speak to your own experience as a woman and to the ‘female experience’ as a whole?

The series that I create they always start from a personal experience. Whether that’s divorce, grieving the loss of my mother, or sexual violence, or abortion or whatever is the impotence for me to embark on a series. It also comes from something within me that I find difficult or problematic or complicated. And then I go through a process of expanding that out and talking to other women, and bringing other women’s experiences and stories in the work. I hope it will always be something that is collective. For example, I’m not interested in making work that is solely about something that I have gone through. I’m more interested in saying “I have an experience with this” and I know there are plenty of women out there that have that; I want to share that space with them.

One of the subject matters highlighted in this exhibition is “metamorphosis”. Did you go through a process of change or metamorphosis that brought you to creating these two pieces?

I think that I’ve been on a real journey of transformation. The last few years for me have been almost a fast track of different experiences: from a divorce, to losing my mother to a terminal illness, to a very painful breakup from a relationship where there was violence and assault. A lot of that has brought a real complex darkness to my work as I have been exploring those things in my work. But more recently I feel that I am arriving at a place of joy and celebration. I think from my own spiritual practice, and through my relationships with other women, my best friends – my gyaldem, it has really put me in touch with this kind of inner force of creativity, and resilience, and joy. A lot of this work is looking at how we as women overcome the fuckeries that life throws at us. Through prayers, and devotion, and dancing, and raving and being together and through accessing our own ‘inner wild space’, and our own ‘inner wild women’; I think that is really the antidote to subjugation, and oppression, and trauma.  

In the current tumultuous time we are living in right now, (Covid-19, the US election, police brutality), where does your work as an artist fit into these conversations? 

I think that where the work explores as an antidote to oppression, and trauma and difficulty, choosing and seeking out joy, and connection to spirit and that inner wilderness that I was referencing; I think that sort of fits in with what is going on right now. Everybody is going through something, everybody is grieving something right now or everybody is anxious about something right now, or feeling trapped or limited or held back. Those are things I have had experience with, and some practice with. And so I think offering as a tool for those difficult experiences, this connection to something that is within us that can’t be limited, can’t be held back or trapped. I think that is a good way of reaching people during this time and what they’re going through. 

Ming Smith, Symmetry on the Ivory Coast, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1972, archival silver gelatin print

Wangari Mathenge: The Ascendants IX (Just Like My Parents’ House, I’ve Become A Visitor), 2020’

I noticed that you use oil paints in the majority of your work. Why did you choose this medium specifically? 

It started just out of curiosity. I actually started painting with watercolours and acrylic. I just used to look at artworks a lot, like when you go to museums [and] there was this quality, a sort of richness that I noticed. I noticed the difference between oils and acrylics. Acrylics have come a long way and they mimic oils right now, back in the day acrylics were kind of dry and they didn’t really have the mixing mediums that they have right now; I think you can mimic an oil painting with acrylics now. When I was doing it, you could tell the difference. And so it was really curiosity. The first time I ever tried to work with oils, it was a complete disaster. It was a very difficult material to understand. And then it just became a quest to understand the language of oils. And then after a while, I just became good at it I guess. Initially it was just curiosity, and now the reason I still paint with oil is – I think just being comfortable with it. 

As an artist that has a diasporic experience, being between more than one culture, how does your artwork speak to your experiences? 

For me I think it changes. Initially what ‘diaspora’ meant to me when I started painting and thinking about it is very different to what it means to me today. Initially I think it was more of a statement, and now it’s more of an exploration of ‘what is diaspora?’. I think that would happen in any time you’re trying to work out something, whether you’re writing or whether you’re painting it tends to become this exploration, this understanding. With my works what you’ll notice is the motifs and objects, and all of these sort of informs that inquisition which is “what is diaspora?”, because it means [something] different to any individual. 

Most recently, I started reading this book ‘Potential History’ by Ariella Azoulay. It’s really interesting because it questions this whole notion of culture, objects, history, art history: what is it? I think for me, especially now with my work, I’m beginning to really look at what my place is in the world, my place in Chicago, the United States. How I have always kind of thought of myself as being a part from Kenya, and sort of being a part from here [United States], with a basis of being diasporic. But really what is that? I realised that there really is no understanding of what that culture looks like. And so [I’m] basically trying to explore that in my work. 

Do you see your work as a direct representation of you as an individual and your identity?

Yeah. I think it has to be. It’s an interesting question, because I have never thought about it not being that I guess. So it must be. 

How has the current world, this ‘new normal’ we are living in affected your work as a creative? Has it enhanced or hindered your work?

The thing is that I have been in school, right? Especially since Covid happened, the only thing that changed is that I was going to class and mingling with my peers and I had a studio on campus, and then we were relegated to distanced learning. Initially I had to change what I need, because I didn’t have access to the kind of space that I had in school. 

In a way it also makes you a little bit more introspective, because when I was in school I had my colleagues, and I had my professors walking in and kind of making the paintings with me because they come in [and] make comments, and you adjust accordingly. While now because you don’t really have eyeballs on your work all the time it forces you to go I think a little more inwards and pull things out. I think for me the change has been a self-direction. I say it’s forced self-direction because part of being in school is that you’re looking for that direction, and you’re looking to be challenged in that way. But because of Covid that hasn’t quite happened in the last 5-6 months. 

What do you hope this exhibition will do for you and your work as an artist moving forward?

I think I would love to have more people have conversations. And I guess the exhibition has more people seeing my work, right? Like you had said you hadn’t seen the work before and so having more people see the work and then engaging in the conversation is always helpful, because I’m not making this work just for me. So I would hope that all those conversations then helps the work grow and become something else as you move along. 

What do you hope people will take away from your artistry? Is there a particular message that you want to portray? 

No. Definitely for me I know what it is that I’m trying to get out of it. I would prefer to leave it a little bit open ended, rather than say that “Okay, this is what I am trying to convey”. I would rather leave it open ended because I think that’s how we live in any case. When we are confronted with visual things and even with writing, there isn’t that capability to always have the author or the artist translate what is going on. I would like for people to come to the work and take with it whatever they want to. And if it can do that, if it can relate to them in some way without me saying anything, then I guess that’s what I’m looking for.    

To view the full exhibition, visit artbasel.com 

All images courtesy of Pippy Houldsworth Gallery.

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Introducing ‘HOME’: A Black-Owned Creative Space by Ronan McKenzie

Introducing a creative, multifunctional space made to hone in on artists of colour: this is ‘HOME’. Founded by creative director, photographer, and curator Ronan McKenzie, this accessible art space is built to house exhibitions and events from a diverse range of artists.

This black owned space is one of few, working from the inside out to fully understand and support other BAME artists. The space works as a ‘home away from home’ for creatives through uplifting the voices and work of artists that are often relegated to lower positions of influence and authority or simply cast aside in the art world. The team at HOME also prioritises accessibility and sustainability, through disability access needs built into the space and fabric eco-friendly alternatives to paper backdrops. By giving these artists access to equipment, expertise, and a safe place to create, HOME is moulding a new infrastructure entirely, one built on equity and empathy. 

The space features an array of equipment including an affordable daylight photo studio, an open workspace and a curated library where exhibitions will take place year round. Events that will be held in the space range from film nights, artists talks and portfolio reviews to supper clubs, life drawings, and music events. 

“Art spaces remain hierarchal and out of reach for most – especially BAME audiences, making entering artistic spheres extremely difficult and maintaining a place in them even harder. Drawing on my own experiences of showing work at institutions, and working across fashion and arts, I am all too aware of the difficulties of navigating creative industries as a black female, and amongst the current offering in London, there needs to be a HOME.” – Ronan McKenzie, Founder and Creative Director of HOME. 

HOME’s debut exhibition is titled: ‘WATA; Further Explorations’ a show by Joy Yamusangie and Ronan McKenzie. This exhibition launched digitally on November 28th and will run till February 9th

For more information on HOME, visit homebrym.space

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Jermaine Francis, ‘Something that was so Familiar becomes Distant.’

Covid-19 altered our reality in many ways. For renowned photographer Jermaine Francis, this was felt in the dislocation of everyday London environments.

On his daily walks during the first UK lockdown in March, Jermaine documented the ever shifting landscape of the city. The people had gone, but London was far from silent.

Francis’ portraits reflect the cultural, political and economic movement that were unfolding on the streets. The anxiety, anger, hope and care which have shaped 2020 in equal measure, when social distancing signs were printed on pavements, boarded up shops became commonplace, yet even in isolation, people found power in each other.

It is these photographs which form a beautiful new book, ‘Something that was so Familiar becomes Distant’. 171 pages of visual imagery that offers an evocative living memory of this transformative year.

The first run consists of a limited edition series of 150 copies, and the book is available to pre-order from 7th December.

Jermaine Francis, ‘Something that was so Familiar becomes Distant.’
Jermaine Francis, ‘Something that was so Familiar becomes Distant.’

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Dior Thanksgiving celebration with Kat Graham

Dior celebrates this Thanksgiving with actress Kat Graham, welcoming all into her beautifully decorated, convivial abode. To celebrate the holiday, Kat introduces her “famous” sweet potato gnocchi, glazed in a sage and cinnamon butter sauce. 

The delicious dish is presented on hand-painted faience plates from Dior’s Maison collection. This set of plates takes its inspiration from the beauty of wildflowers, and the spirit of Puglia, Italy. The designs echo the essence of the incoming 2021 Cruise Show by Maria Grazia Chiuri. 

Each dish mimics the designs of traditional tarot card images, bringing a touch of magic to every meal. Enjoy the holidays with the warming and homely energy this set emits. 

View the full collection at Dior.com

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White Cube: Cocoa Sculptures With a Bitter Taste of Colonialism

White Cube tells a story about how art can be an ally to a community constricted by neo-colonialism. The feature-length film directed by Renzo Martens documents the formation of Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), and how they mobilised their artwork, to bring economic and ecological growth back to their community. The film is set to premiere in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the international feature film competition at the IDFA film festival in Amsterdam, this November. 

The sculptures are first made using mud and are then 3D scanned and reproduced in cocoa and palm oil in Amsterdam. One sculpture by artist Irene Kanga titled “Forced Love”, depicts a brutal rape to symbolise the catalyst of the Congo Revolt of 1960. 

The artwork is then exhibited in museums and art galleries worldwide and the money from these exhibitions is reinvested back into the community. The White Cube sits on a Lusanga plantation as a pillar for a different future, surrounded by new ecological growth.

“Land or art. If I would have to choose, I would choose both. But if I really have to choose only one, I would choose the land. Where can I put my chair and start making art, if I do not own the land?” – Matthieu Kilapi Kasiama, CATPC.

Renzo’s film and the work of the CATPC, brings light to the complex relationship between the Congolese plantations and the art world. With reports of profits extracted from these plantations to fund museums and galleries such as Tate Modern, the question presides: can these museums ever be truly inclusive when reparations have not been paid to plantation workers who have financed these very institutions? 

“Is there any way, for working people, for the working class to benefit from art? Is there any way for gentrification to be reversed?” – Renzo Martens

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Hair Portraits by Rachel Portesi at The BMAC

Cover image: Homage to Louise Bourgoise (quadriptych) 2018

The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) in Vermont recently opened an exhibition with Artist Rachel Portesi and BMAC Chief Curator Mara Williams exploring  the sentimental values of hair as it pertains to identity and its relationship women and femme-identifying individuals throughout society. The exhibit entitled Hair Portraits features a series of Portesi’s tintype photographs of femme identifying models of various ages and ethnicity who see consider hair to be a large part of their identity. Each image through the series reflects on hair’s symbolic significance throughout history, with linkage to culture, fertility, sexual identity and ethnicity. 

“Also informing Hair Portraits is Portesi’s fascination with the cross-cultural presence of hair in historic memorialization and mourning practices. During the Victorian era—which coincided with the rise of tintype photography—wreaths, art, and sculpture were often made using the deceased’s hair as the primary medium, especially among families that couldn’t afford photography. In the Ndebele culture of Zimbabwe and northeastern South Africa (among other ethnic groups), it is customary for family members of all sexes to shave their head during the mourning period, unless the deceased relative willed them exempt prior to passing. Religious sculptures from first-century China have been found to contain human hair in their hollow recesses. And in present-day Western culture, it is not unusual for a parent to save a lock of hair to memorialize their child’s first haircut,” – BMAC

 “I use hair to both honor and say goodbye to past parts of myself. These images address fertility, sexuality, creativity, nurturement, and harmony and discord with nature. Above all, these images — photographs of elaborate, pinned hair sculptures constructed in the studio with the input of their subjects—are a testament to change. In my case, that change is a record of metamorphosis from a past fractured self to an integrated, confident, self-actualized woman,” the artist explained.

Rachel Portesi is now on show at The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, for more information visit The BMAC.

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Red Bull Arts New York presents Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test

In collaboration with Red Bull Arts New York , Jamaican stylist, designer and artist Akeem Smith is set to present his first solo exhibition entitled “No Gyal Can Test” at the Red Bull Arts New York. Set to open doors on September 24th, the exhibition is a compilation of personal photographs and videos gifted to the artist over the past decade by family members, friends and members of Kingston’s dancehall community, documenting the iconic era.  

“Drawing upon his experience growing up between New York and Jamaica, Smith harmonizes disparate elements from this extensive archival documentation, which chronicles this seminal era from the early 80s through y2k, conjuring a collective memory that otherwise would have only existed on the threshold of the artist’s own. Part poem, part anthropological homage, No Gyal Can Test forms a layered exploration of spectral coloniality, diaspora, and the voyeurism that results from transposing these artefacts across cultural, economic, and temporal divides.”

The exhibit includes work in collaboration with sculptor Jessi Reacves, British fashion designer Grace Wales Bonners and musicians Total Freedom, Physical Therapy, Alex Somers and dancehall icon Bounty Killer. Visit Red Bull Arts for more information on Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test. 

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Unit London presents : The Medium is the Message

Cover image : Sthenjwa Luthuli, Untold Stories, 2020 Hand carved wood & 149 x 198cm, courtesy of Unit London

London based Gallery Unit London recently announced the upcoming opening of their exhibition The Medium is the Message — a group show 18 emerging artists exploring the role pigment and blackness plays in the expression of identity through artistic mediums. Set to open on October 2nd, the showcased has been curated by Azu Nwagbogu with the aid of assistant curators Wunika Mukan & Jana Terblanche. With the work of Wonder Buhle Mbambo, Ngozi Schommers, Barry Yusufu among many others the exhibition tells the story of a world which stigmatises Blackness & Brownness while simultaneously celebrating its cultural fruits. Each artist throughout the exhibition approaches this from unique angles, names like Collins Obijiaku for example uses portraiture, domestic settings and seemingly mundane scenes to reflect notions of identity with compositions. While many of the other artists challenge stereotypes and politicised images of black and brown people by focusing on traditions ritual and familial bonds. 

Katlego Tlabela, Tableau Vivant ll Step Ya Money Up! (After Kerry James Marshell’s Club Couple), 2020, Acrylic, ink and collage on canvas Diptych, 77 x 154cm each, 77 x 77 cm, courtesy of Unit London

‘While representation is important, it is empty if it is not succeeded by unfettered existence. This exhibition veers away from the performative power of the image and ponders existence beyond representation. The Blackness presented here is authentic, quiet, and confident. It rejects the societal gaze whereby Blackness is inextricably linked to majesty or misery with very little gradation between the two, their art unveils many facets of black existence that encompass play, solitude, contemplation and a range of human experience with approaches that do not kowtow to exoticism, but rather reflect the communities from whence they were birthed,’ explained curator Azu Nwagbogu . 

For the full list of artists and further information about the exhibit visit theunitldn.com 

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Somerset House presents: Untitled by Akinola Davies Jr

In their latest installation of their ongoing online Pause programme —  a mid-week moment designed to carve out time to enjoy an artist’s work in full —  Somerset House Studios has partnered with artist & filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr. on a film that documents his interactions with his mother during lockdown. In an exploration of themes of mortality , intergenerational relationship and the black female body, Davies Jr. uses his lens to tell a story of black motherhood. 

 “There is redemption in exploring the power of vulnerability. The passage of time and a confrontation of mortality and the eternal.    This work leans on the sacrifice of motherhood.   The process of ageing.   The relationship of the human body with the physical space as expansive lives inhabit the daily ritual of being.  It is a requiem of living memories.  Homage to technology as an archive of embalming our history, bringing life to our past.   It is the honouring of our mothers so our days on earth can be long.   Ultimately I don’t know what the work is about, but I also know exactly what it is about. It is a work that lives in the quiet space, beyond words. It is ultimately what I place value on. The most value,” he explained. Watch the full film here.

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