Past Event

UP:RISE Study Day


Saturday 14 August, 10am – 2pm
BOM, Birmingham 
Free to attend

Curator: Candice Nembhard
Speakers: Harun Morrison and Taiwo Ogunyinka

ICF is hosting a study day at Birmingham Open Media (BOM) as part of the public programme for UP:RISE, a new groundbreaking nationwide Augmented Reality public artwork by artist Baff Akoto concerned with the pathology, history and underlying drivers of English civil unrest in the digital age – exhibiting nationwide from August 6th 2021 to mark 10 years since the civil unrest of summer 2011 announced the arrival of 21st Century Britain. The study day at BOM will be curated by Candice Nembhard and will feature presentations by Harun Morrison and Taiwo Ogunyinka

Structure of the Event:
10:00 – Explore UP:RISE exhibition, meet & greet
11:00 – Artist and writer Harun Morrison will present a talk that explores the representation of police in a selection of U.S. hip hop videos made post-Black Lives Matter (from 2013 onwards). This talk aims to identify the police in the Black imaginary and recurring tropes including supernatural possession and blurring of identity. 
12:30 – Taiwo Ogunyinka will lead a workshop responding to the understanding of the 2011 riots as a turning point in the relationship between digitisation and modernity. Through reading and discussion of speculative sci-fi poetry, we will use art as a site for the imagining of what further possibilities could exist for social justice and organising.
13:35 – Open forum discussion with all participants 
14:00 – Lunch 

This event is free, includes a delicious vegetarian lunch and is perfect for creatives, students, academics and professionals interested in urbanism, sociology, digital tech, psychology, protest, public art, youth culture and more.

To reserve your free place please email

About the Participants:

Candice Nembhard is a writer, poet, artist-curator and producer based in Birmingham, previously Berlin. They are the founder of the queer film series ALL FRUITS RIPE, co-producer of The R.A.P Party Berlin and co-founder of the arts collective Poet & Prophetess. They have presented and exhibited work internationally and their writing has appeared in Frieze, Sleek Mag, Poetry London and others. Candice is currently an artist-curator at Eastside Projects and an alumna of the Black Curators Collective.

Harun Morrison is an artist and writer based on the River Lea and Regent’s Canal. He is the current recipient of the Wheatley Fine Art Fellowship, hosted by Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham City University and Eastside Projects. His forthcoming novel, The Escape Artist will be published by Book Works in 2022. Since 2006, Harun has collaborated with Helen Walker as part of the collective practice They Are Here. He is also a trustee of the Black Cultural Archive (est. 1981).

Taiwo Ogunyinka is a poet, collective arts organiser, and activist based in Leeds. His work is defined by the desire and necessity to radically imagine how society is organised. From a speculative position, incorporating the wisdom of experience, acquired knowledge, and shared truths, his writing examines solutions for the urgency of the human condition. He has developed and delivered workshops exploring poetry and poetics as a source of resistance and transformation in the face of colonialism and imperialism.

About our Partners:

UP:RISE re-casts August 2011 as a key formative moment of 21st Century Britain. 2011’s uprisings were widely reported as the senseless sacking and looting of property by mindless youth fuelled by opportunistic material greed and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) encryption. UP:RISE takes a critical and provocative position, re-examining this portrayal and the legacies of August 2011 on the past 10 years. The work and its nationwide public exhibition also reflects on Britain’s postwar tradition of violent civil unrest and community uprisings sparked by police violence, fanned by social deprivation and racial animosity. With access to public space and social life restricted by the pandemic, UP:RISE seeks to expand the notion of what public art can be. By engaging digitally with non-traditional audiences that previously have been excluded from such conversations, UP:RISE marks a step change in the conception of public and community art practice in the digital era. Baff Akoto’s AR artwork and accompanying nationwide public exhibition reflects on the UK’s past, present and future. In rendering this new model of public art, Akoto encourages social critique and community engagement by exploring charged social histories while speculating around our shared digital futures.

Baff Akoto is an artist and film-maker living in London. Akoto’s work has been exhibited at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) and at the British Film Institute (BFI) in their Experimenta strand for ‘works by artists that revolutionise and reshape our vision of the cinematic moving image’. As a director and producer Baff began as a documentary film-maker, before going on to direct network TV drama at Channel 4 and the BBC, leading to his inclusion on Idris Elba’s BBC New Talent Hotlist. In 2018 Screen International tipped Akoto as a “Star of Tomorrow”. The most recent feature film he has produced QUEEN OF GLORY (from actor and first time director Nana Mensah) will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2021. Having forged a path within visual arts with mentoring from John Akomfrah and the Oscarwinning Asif Kapadia, Baff’s work embraces the fluidity of visual grammar, notions of plurality, (self) perceptions and societal implications of human bodily movement (disability, ritual, dance). Most recently Baff’s work explores the artistic potential of VR/AR as he becomes increasingly concerned with how the digital revolution might avoid the same prejudices, exclusions and inequalities which arose from our industrial and colonial eras. 

BOM is a centre for art, technology and science dedicated to creative innovation with purpose. Located in central Birmingham, our gallery is free to enter and presents cutting edge digital artworks and exhibitions that spark debate about technology and scientific progress. BOM is dedicated to positive social impact in all that we do. Our exhibitions and events explore topical issues in digital culture and science which impact on human lives. Our education work engages excluded children, young people and adults in creative technology programmes, with a particular interest in neurodiversity and technology. BOM is born from hacker culture. But unlike other hackspaces that are filled with tools and operate on a membership model, our building is publicly accessible with free exhibitions and events.

I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney

I am a heart beating in the world

Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney

1. Zadie Xa, Child of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation (2019), Video Still, commissioned for Art Night London 2019. Image: Benito Mayor Vallejo. 2. Leyla Stevens, Safe Passage (2013), Colour Prints, Text.

Installation images by Kai Wasikowski.

View Exhibition Handout

International Curators Forum and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in partnership with Campbelltown Arts Centre present ‘I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney’ – an exhibition which considers the navigations, imaginings and lived experiences of six artists based in Australia, the UK and the Caribbean: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa and Daniela Yohannes.

Curated by Adelaide Bannerman, Mikala Tai and Jessica Taylor, the exhibition will take place on the land of the Dharawal people at Campbelltown Arts Centre in Western Sydney, Australia from 22 May to 10 October 2021.

‘I am a heart beating in the world’ is the first of a series of peripatetic, international events set to take place in Sydney, London, Venice and online culminating in the International Curators Forum’s Diaspora Pavilion 2 project, presented in collaboration with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Diaspora Pavilion 2 interrogates and complicates the term diaspora across various curatorial formats as part of an ongoing mapping of the rich and complex material cultures, mythologies, alternative histories and re-imagined landscapes that are born from the distinct and yet shared reality of belonging to a diaspora.

‘I am a heart beating in the world’ considers how the artists connections to ancestral homes are maintained and re-imagined through memories, myths and traditions. In the exhibition Lindy Lee explores the feelings of absence in the diaspora in the works Fire in the Immanence of Unfolding (2020), Fire and Dew (2020), and Quiescent Mind (2020), and engages family photographs in Birth and Death (2002) and Twinning through jade bamboo (2015). Daniela Yohannes also incorporates family photos into her collages, a series of self-truths (2018), and offers a meditation on our relationships to ‘homelands’ in the film Atopias: I Have Left that Dark Cave Forever, My Body has Blended with Hers (2020). Leyla Stevens’ photographic diptych, Safe Passage (2013) and film, Our Sea is Always Hungry (2018) interrogate what is seen and unseen in the Balinese landscape.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah exhibits two new sculptures, Buraq (2020) and Throne Room (2021), alongside Merantau (2016), all of which connect in different ways to his ancestry in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Kashif Nadim Chaudry presents two sculptures, Hareem (2010) and Cabal (2020), which consider the cultural and social forces that inform his experiences as a gay man of Pakistani heritage in the UK. Zadie Xa’s large tapestry works A Pilgrimage 2 Family Through the Portal of a Green Ghost and its counterpart A Pilgrimage 2 Family Through the Portal of a Blue Ghost (2019) and film installation Child of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation (2019) imagine new worlds informed by Korean creation myths.

Understanding diaspora as a distinct, sometimes provisional experience nuanced economically, historically and regionally ‘I am a heart beating in the world’ is as much an exhibition as it is a research project, underpinned by fieldwork and reviews of how artists, curators, theorists and institutions engage with diaspora as a topic. 4A’s biannual 4A Curators Intensive will be held alongside the exhibition, bringing together early-career Australian and UK-based curators in a week-long professional development programme. The intensive will be facilitated in a hybrid format through workshops, lectures, site visits and discussions.

Watch video interviews between the exhibiting artists & the curators

1. Daniela Yohannes, A Gathering in God’s Land (2018), Digital Collage. 2. Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Buraq (2020), Carved and painted wood 80x110x230cm. Commissioned for DP2. Courtesy Murdoch University Art Collection and the artist. Supported by The Department of Local Govt, Sports and Cultural Industries.

Artist Biographies 

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (b. Port Kembla, Australia 1977 lives and works in Perth, Australia) is a sculptor whose practice explores the different ways that memory can inhabit and emerge from familial spaces. Drawing on the narrative capacity of animal archetypes, crafted objects and the human presence, Abdullah aims to articulate physical dialogues between the natural world, politics and the agency of culture. Recent exhibitions include The National, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2019), Dark Horizons, Pataka Art + Museum, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand (2017) and Magic Object, Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art, Adelaide, Australia (2016).

Kashif Nadim Chaudry (b. Nottingham, United Kingdom 1976 lives and works in Nottingham, United Kingdom) is informed by his family heritage in tailoring which has influenced and focused his practice around the importance of materiality and craftsmanship. His work is characterised by the working, shaping and moulding of physical objects through the use of elaborate textile-based techniques to create monumental installations from fabric and found objects. Negotiating his identity as a British born gay man of Pakistani Muslim heritage much of Chaudry’s work questions how people choose to position themselves in the world. In relation, it is increasingly the sculptural and three-dimensional possibilities within his work that address the idea of positioning power, the sacred and the ceremonial. Recent exhibitions include What is Home at National Trust Croome Court, Worcester (2019), The Three Graces, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2016) and Swags & Tails as part of the Asia Triennial, Manchester, UK (2014).

Lindy Lee (b. Brisbane, Australia 1954 lives and works in Byron Bay, Australia) has an expansive practice that explores her Chinese ancestry through Taoism and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism – philosophies that see humanity and nature as inextricably linked. Symbolic gestures and processes that call on the element of chance are often used to produce a galaxy of images that embody the intimate connections between human existence and the cosmos. Rather than singular visual statements, they are thoughtful objects where meaning emerges from sustained meditation. Notable exhibitions include: the major survey exhibition Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop, Museum of Contemporary Art (2020-2021); the group exhibition Divided Worlds: Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia (2018); and Lindy Lee: The Dark of Absolute Freedom, The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia (2014).

Leyla Stevens (b. Cooroy, Australia 1982, lives and works between Bali, Indonesia and Sydney, Australia) is an Australian-Balinese artist and researcher who works predominantly within moving image and photography. Her practice is informed by ongoing concerns around gesture, ritual, spatial encounters, transculturation and counter histories. Working within modes of representation that shift between the documentary and speculative fictions, her work deals with a notion of counter archives and alternative genealogies. In 2021, Leyla Stevens was awarded the 66th Blake Prize for her work Kidung/Lament. Recent exhibitions include her solo presentations Dua Dunia, curated by Rachel Ciesla, at PS Art Space, Perth Festiva (2021), A Line in the Sea, West Space, Melbourne, PHOTO 21 Festival (2021), Their Sea is Always Hungry, UTS Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2019) and Of Love and Decomposition, Firstdraft, Sydney, Australia (2016) and group exhibitions The National 2021, Art Gallery of News South Wales, Breathing Room (collaboration with Woven Kolektif), Cement Fondue, Sydney, Australia (2019), BEAUT 19, Brisbane & Elsewhere Art UnTriennial, Brisbane, Australia (2018) and the John Fries Award, UNSW Galleries, Sydney, Australia (2018).

Zadie Xa (b. Vancouver on unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territory 1983, lives and works in London, UK.) produces work informed by her experiences within the Korean diaspora, as well as the environmental and cultural context of the Pacific Northwest. Forces of distance and relation—familial, cultural, spiritual—shape her constantly evolving notions of self. Her work often features garments, including cloaks and masks, used for performance, protection or ceremony. Xa’s practice is highly collaborative, and she has developed ongoing exchanges with dancers, musicians and actors. Since 2006, Xa has worked closely with artist Benito Mayor Vallejo. Recent solo projects include, Moon Poetics 4 Courageous Earth Critters and Dangerous Day Dreamers, Remai Modern, Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of Métis, Saskatoon Canada (2020-21), Child of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, UK (2020), Art Night London 2019 and Meetings on Art performance program for the 58th Venice Biennale 2019. Xa was one of the recipients of the Sobey Art Award in 2020, which for the first time was awarded to all 25 nominees.

Daniela Yohannes (b. 1982, lives and works in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean) uses her own Ethiopian-Eritrean heritage as a lens in her work to reflect upon the racialised movement and conditional belonging of African diaspora. Through abstract portraiture and storytelling across multiple media, Yohannes explores the overlap of individual and collective subconscious and desire, and the destruction caused by displacement. Her work dwells on alternative Black realities, considering the bonds between herself, her family and other communities through magical symbolism. By embracing forms of hybridity and considering the artefacts of diaspora as a means of travel in themselves, she has built a dedicated interdimensional machine from emotionally charged objects.


International Curators Forum (ICF) was founded by artists and curators in 2007 to offer a dynamic and evolving programme that responds to the conditions and contexts impacting creative practitioners through commissions, exhibitions, projects, publications and events. We provide tools and platforms for professional development and facilitate an open peer-to-peer network inviting participants to be part of a generative system of skills and knowledge transfer. Across all of our work, both critically and practically, we aim to challenge the barriers to equality and inclusivity within our industry.

Through all aspects of our programme we engage with diaspora as a critical framework through which we can address and complicate public discussion, test and explore new innovative curatorial models, and create space for artistic and discursive interventions into historical narratives and systems of representation. Based in London, ICF has conceived and produced projects with artists, curators and thinkers who engage with diaspora across the UK, Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, and now Australia.

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (4A) is an independent not-for-profit organisation based in Sydney, Australia. 4A fosters excellence and innovation in contemporary culture through the commissioning, presentation, documentation and research of contemporary art. Our program is presented throughout Australia and Asia , where we ensure that contemporary art plays a central role in understanding and developing the dynamic relationship between Australia and the wider Asian region.

4A’s activities facilitate cultural dialogue between Australia and Asia in the belief that Asian cultural thinking significantly shapes the world today and will have an important impact on the future. In Australia we showcase stories, present a multiplicity of perspectives, and explore contemporary concerns and ideas that influence how we, as a nation, engage with Asia. We have a particular focus on art that addresses Asian-Australian experiences and the contributions that diverse Asian migration has made ⎯ and continues to make ⎯ in shaping Australia. 4A’s focus in Asia is to promote the breadth of Australian artistic talent, seeking to build an image of Australia that is open, progressive and fundamentally connected with our Asian neighbours.

4A has been a leader in Asian contemporary art in Australia since 1996. In the decades since, we have established a highly respected reputation among artists and audiences, and within an expanding network of international art institution peers. Our long history and ongoing work across Asia is recognised as having raised awareness of Asian-Australian art and culture we continue to celebrate Australia’s diverse cultural heritage and growing links throughout the wider Asian region.

Located on the edge of Sydney, Campbelltown Arts Centre (C-A-C) is in a unique position to forge collaborative exchanges between artists, disciplines and communities through the creation of new curatorial situations and challenging streams of practice.
Using the edge as a starting point, Campbelltown Arts Centre creates a secure platform for communities and artists to take risks, challenge perceptions, confront issues and raise questions through the commissioning of new works. These new works invite collaboration, partnership, local, national and international dialogue, the juxtaposition of new and traditional techniques and cross-disciplinary approaches. Contemporary artists are at the forefront of Campbelltown Arts Centre’s programming and through consultation with communities, we deliver a program that profiles contemporary visual arts, performance, dance, music, live art and emergent practices.

Campbelltown Arts Centre is a cultural facility of Campbelltown City Council and located on Dharawal land. Campbelltown Arts Centre is assisted by the NSW Government through Create NSW and by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its funding and advisory body, and receives support from the Crown Resorts Foundation and the Packer Family Foundation.

Global Plantation Series

Shiraz Bayjoo, Extraordinary Quarantines No15

Global Plantation Series

This programme is a series of artist-directed digital discussions featuring Shiraz BayjooJasmine Togo-Brisby and Sancintya Mohini Simpson held between June and September 2020. The series was developed by Anna Arabindan-Kesson and Shiraz in collaboration with International Curators Forum to contemplate the global forms and meanings of the plantation historically, and in our contemporary moment.

A Land of Extraordinary Quarantines

When Mark Twain visited Mauritius in 1896, he described it as a Land of Extraordinary Quarantines, referring to the fear of disease transmission associated with ships transporting indentured laborers to the island. The dual image of the island as a space of quarantine and a plantation animates artist Shiraz Bayjoo’s multi-media practice, and the archives-in formation he creates. In this conversation Shiraz and art historian Anna Arabindan-Kesson will reflect on the convergence of extraction and confinement, of humans and natural world, of labor and memory in his Indian ocean landscapes. How does art help us understand the afterlives of these colonial histories, in our current experience of confinement, and provide alternative possibilities for working through this uncertain present?

Read conversation transcript.

Inheritance: Jasmine Togo-Brisby’s Plantation Histories

In this recording, Anna and Shiraz speak with artist Jasmine Togo-Brisby about her research and practice as it relates to an ongoing engagement with the history of the enslavement of South Sea Islanders on Australian sugarcane plantations in the 19th century, and the contemporary legacy and impact of the Pacific’s slave trade. The conversation addresses the generational reality of the plantation as home, the capacity of the archive to render plantation histories both visible and invisible, and the ways in which both Jasmine and Shiraz excavate family and public archives as a means of formulating new visual languages through which to make public these narratives.

Read conversation transcript.

Sites of Resistance, Sites of Care: A Conversation with Sancintya Mohini Simpson 

In this recording, Anna and Shiraz speak with Brisbane-based artist and researcher Sancintya Mohini Simpson, a descendent of indentured labourers sent from India to South Africa to work on colonial sugar plantations, whose practice addresses gaps and silences in the colonial archive and is engaged in wider narratives surrounding the indenture diaspora community. This conversation takes up the plantation as a site of resistance and connection, and the history of migration as a continual one. Sancintya speaks about the poetics of memory and the impossibility of the archive, the latter of which is created both intentionally through strategies of care and respect and as a consequence of lost languages and histories. Refusing Western expectations around the archive, Sancintya and Shiraz draw attention to the complexity of memorialising the stories and images of indentured labourers and presenting histories of trauma to an audience.

Read conversation transcript.

Artists Q&A with Shiraz Bayjoo, Jasmine Togo-Brisby & Sancintya Mohini Simpson

About the speakers: 

Shiraz Bayjoo studied Painting at the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff, and was artist in residence at Whitechapel Gallery during 2011. He has exhibited at Tate Britain and the Institute of International Visual Arts, London; 14th Biennale of Sharjah; 13th Biennale of Dakar; 21st Biennale of Sydney; and is a recipient of the Gasworks Fellowship and the Arts Council of England. His work is represented in the Sharjah Foundation collection, UK Government collection, and French National collection, as well as private collections both in Europe and Asia. Born in Mauritius, Bayjoo’s work focuses on the Indian Ocean and the European historical legacies that have shaped the region. Bayjoo has been a visiting lecturer and critic at universities both in Europe and the USA, most notably the Courtauld Institute, Central St. Martin’s college of Art, MONASH university Australia, and Princeton University (forthcoming) USA. Bayjoo is participating in the Diaspora Pavilion 2 programme.

Anna Arabindan-Kesson is an art historian and writer, who is jointly appointed as an Assistant Professor of Black Diaspora Art in the departments of African American Studies and Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. She has lived and studied in Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand and England and prior to completing her PhD in African American Studies and Art History in the United States, Anna was a Registered Nurse. Her personal and professional background inflect her academic and curatorial work which focuses on the relationship of vision and visuality to histories of race, empire, and migration.

Jasmine Togo-Brisby is a fourth-generation Australian South Sea Islander, whose great-great-grandparents were taken from Vanuatu as children and put to work on an Australian sugarcane plantation. Togo-Brisby’s research examines the historical practice of ‘blackbirding’, a romanticised colloquialism for the Pacific slave trade, and its contemporary legacy and impact upon those who trace their roots to New Zealand and Australia through the slave-diaspora. Based in Wellington, Togo-Brisby is one of the few artists delving into the cultural memory and shared histories of plantation colonisation across the Pacific, her practice encompassing painting, early photographic techniques and processes, and sculpture.

Sancintya Mohini Simpson is an artist and researcher based in Brisbane, Australia. She is a descendent of indentured labourers sent to work, from India to South Africa, on colonial sugar plantations. Her work navigates the complexities of migration, memory and trauma through addressing gaps and silences within the colonial archive. Simpson’s work moves between painting, video, poetry and performance to develop narratives and rituals. Her practice is grounded in collaboration and community engagement, engaging in wider narratives surrounding the indenture diaspora community. Simpson’s recent solo exhibitions include New Old Archives, Milani Gallery, Brisbane (2020); Kūlī nām dharāyā/ they’ve given you the name ‘coolie’, Institute of Modern Art Belltower, Brisbane (2020); Echoes Over Oceans (with Shivanjani Lal), Firstdraft, Sydney (2020); Remnants of my ancestors, Boxcopy (Hobiennale), Hobart (2019); Natal’s Coolie Women, CARPARK, Milani Gallery, Brisbane (2019); and Bloodlines at Metro Arts, Brisbane and Blak Dot Gallery (Next Wave Festival), Melbourne (2018). Her work has been exhibited and performed at a number of institutions, most recently at the Museum of Brisbane (2020); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2019); and QUT Art Museum, Brisbane (2018). In 2019 she undertook a residency at 1Shanthiroad in Bangalore, India, awarded through Asialink Arts Creative Exchange. Simpson is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.

An Alternative Map of the Universe

An Alternative Map of the Universe 
at Guest Projects, London

conceived by Niccolò Moronato, Jessica Taylor, Abbas Zahedi 

Exhibition dates: Monday 28 October – Friday 1 November (12 – 6 pm)  
Location: Guest Projects, 1 Andrews Road, London E8 4QL

Departing from Niccolò Moronato’s body of work Firmament, which looks at stars and constellations from the alternative perspective of a planet 40 light years away from us, An Alternative Map of the Universe is a collaborative effort to bring together artists who use mapping as a way of responding to current realities or imagining new ones for the future. Together, this group of artists will attempt to find a way to communicate in spite of and in response to the disparate systems that govern our existence today. Through the staging of works, performances and screenings, our aim for this programme is to encourage individuals to consider questions such as: What is space? Is space even real? Who is space for? Who holds power in space? What constellation do we find ourselves in? 

Featuring works, performances or talks by: Larry Achiampong, Ewan Atkinson, Niklas Gustafson, Versia Harris, Emre Kazim, Niccolò Moronato, Paul O’Kane, Katarzyna Perlak, Pilar Quinteros and Abbas Zahedi.

Images courtesy Katarzyna Perlak & graphics courtesy Marcelo Vendramel


Monday 28 October  

6pm – Performance by Abbas Zahedi – ‘Rose & STEMM‘ (2019)
Rose & STEMM builds on the ideas and research explored in Zahedi’s previous works ROSE WATER (2018) and MANNA from below (2017); this will involve the performance of grieving rites upon the gallery space, as a way of laying to rest the analytic and categorical biases, which are so often used to exclude diasporic bodies of praxis and flesh.

7pm – ‘Dressing’ Live work by Niklas Gustafson (2019)
Dressing ignores the distinction between, say, a Ferrari and a sticker and revels in the freedom and challenges that might bring.

8pm – Talk: ‘Is this space real?’ with Abbas Zahedi, Niklas Gustafson, Niccolò Moronato, moderated by Jessica Taylor 

Tuesday 29 October 
6 – 7 pm – Film screenings

Larry Achiampong – ‘Relic 1′ (2017) 
Forming part of Achiampong’s multi-disciplinary project Relic Traveller: Phase 1, this short film features a Relic Traveller apparating sites across a seemingly desperate United Kingdom. Uncovering fragments of audible data presenting clue-like testimonies to a forgotten Empire, the Relic Traveller soon finds themselves in an atmosphere that simultaneously delivers poetic moments of the sublime met with increasingly harrowing claustrophobia and tales of trauma. Thus resulting in a familiar feeling of otherness, we are invited on a journey that embodies hysteria.

Katarzyna Perlak – ‘Niołam Ja Se Kochaneczke‘ (2016)
Niołam Ja Se Kochaneczke explores potentialities of queer utopias, while looking at the relationship between history, ‘national values’ and power structures. Through the work Perlak revisited Eastern European folk traditions and whilst employing feminist and queer reading she encourages the viewer to consider and experience history as a discourse made out of multiple, overlapping and contesting narratives rather than a single, fixed entity.

Versia Harris – ‘I Don’t Want To Be An Emperor. That’s Not My Business’ (2019)
This work is about how oppression and coercion can be hidden in idealistic rhetoric or conversely how idealistic action threatens the abilities of those in power to oppress and coerce. The imagery is footage of a physical landscape scene built by the artist, presenting a seemingly idealistic society enjoying a day that commemorates “The Pelican.” The audio is a collection of political speeches by dictators who have caused mass suffering and political heroes who, because of their idealistic values, have been assassinated.

Pilar Quinteros – ‘Cementerio Indio’ (2015) 
Quinteros investigates the common procedure followed and options available to those who find archaeological sites like the one discovered near her building in 2014 during the demolition of an old house to accommodate a new metro line in Santiago, Chile. To respond to this act, Quinteros builds a reproduction of the house to create a space that people could enter to watch the film’s documentation of the demolition, subsequent discovery of the bodies, interviews with those involved, followed by footage of the construction of the cardboard house by the artist.  

Wednesday 30 October 
5:30pm – Workshop: The Star Survey by Niccolò Moronato 

7pm – Talk: ‘Technologies of Togetherness’ with Paul O’Kane and Emre Kazim

New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art

New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art

Farwa Moledina, ‘Interwoven’, 2018, Ways of Belonging, Ort Gallery at Midlands Art Centre

ICF has partnered with New Art West Midlands and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art to select 20 recently-graduated artists to participate in the New Art West Midlands 2019 exhibition as part of this year’s Coventry Biennial (4 October – 24 November 2019).

The selected artists include: Betsy Bradley, Hira Butt, Sarah Byrne, Gemma Costin, Anna Katarzyna Domejko, Andreana Fatta, Matt Gale, Amy Guo, Ewan Johnston, Navi Kaur, Shiyi Li, Mengxia Liu, Farwa Moledina, Tayyibah Mota, Laura Onions, Ameera Sadiq, Matías Serra Delmar, Rosie Piercy, Georgia Tucker and Lily Wales.

In autumn 2019 New Art West Midlands returned with a new model, working in collaboration with Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art and International Curators Forum to introduce an exciting group of artists across the city. From traditional arts venues to unexpected spaces and public places, the exhibition aimed to reach new audiences and show the value of creativity as Coventry moves closer to its tenure as UK City of Culture in 2021.

The selected artists are recent graduates from the West Midlands’ art schools and creative Higher Education programmes. The region has a rich offer and heritage when it comes to art education; New Art West Midlands is a partnership with the leading institutions to celebrate the talented individuals emerging from undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes.

Applications were received from over one hundred artists, representing recent graduates from Birmingham City University, Coventry University, University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester, Staffordshire University and Hereford College of Arts.

The selection panel included ICF team members Adelaide Bannerman and Jessica Taylor, invited selector Cindy Sissokho and Ryan Hughes, the founder and director of Coventry Biennial. ICF’s Diaspora Pavilion project model has informed the direction of New Art West Midlands 2019 as a professional development programme.

In addition to participation in Coventry Biennial, a smaller cohort from these 20 artists will be selected to work with an appointed curator on a yearlong professional development programme. This intensive period will support practice-based skills toward the development of new work for a further curated exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery (Culture Coventry) in autumn 2020.

Speaking about the selection and quality of submissions, Jessica Taylor commented: “International Curators Forum is thrilled to be partnering with New Art West Midlands, Coventry Biennial and Herbert Art Gallery on this important opportunity to support a cohort of recently-graduated emerging artists and a curator from the West Midlands.

“We are excited that the Diaspora Pavilion model has influenced the development of this programme, which champions diversity and the professional development of emerging practitioners in the region. The connections made and exposure gained by the 20 selected artists as a result of their inclusion in this Biennial stands to be of great importance during this moment of transition in their careers, and we look forward to working closely with some of the artists as they continue on in the programme alongside a selected curator in 2020.”

Highlights include new large-scale installations, sculpture, photography, video, paintings, drawings and digital artworks, exploring themes of cultural identity, technologies and the environment among others.

Sarah Byrne’s (University of Wolverhampton) work reflects on experiences growing up in England as British girl with an Asian mother. Her projections use imagery from her mother’s old photo albums of childhood trips to the Philippines to question the events and exchanges that have contributed to a separation in her two national identities.
“I am a renegade botanist” declares Gemma Costin (Hereford College of Arts). Her travelling seedpod is a repurposed caravan that used to be called home, now transformed into a space to interrogate ideas of nature and biophilia.
Amy Guo (Staffordshire University) investigates the relationship between human and digital technologies. Works consider the ways in which our social interactions with others are mediated through technology and the visibility of our digital selves.
Farwa Moledina’s (Birmingham City University) series of prints on paper and textile are concerned with re-appropriating and reclaiming Orientalist imagery of Muslim Women. In today’s postcolonial, globalised world, refugees, immigrants and persons of dual culture often find themselves caught between tradition, integration and redefinition of their complex identities.
Through film, photography and mixed media, Tayyibah Mota (Coventry University) considers the Hijab. Her work seeks to display the tradition within and opposition to this Muslim practice, whilst sharing personal experiences of some of the British Muslim women who wear them.
Rosie Piercy (University of Worcester) deals with the very current issue of tuition fees and the cost of education in Britain. Her sculpture ‘Forever in Debt’ consists of helium filled balloons highlighting the exact balance of her student loan as they slowly deflate.

Ryan Hughes, director of Coventry Biennial, commented: “We are really delighted by the work we have selected and are looking forward to bringing it to Coventry to share with audiences. The professional development focus of New Art West Midlands aligns strongly with our vision for a social and critically engaged biennial for the region. The unique and inclusive new model they have built will create deeply meaningful opportunities for these artists in the West Midlands and beyond.”

The Place is Here: The Work of Black Artists in 1980s Britain Launch Event

The Place is Here: The Work of Black Artists in 1980s Britain

Launch Event



On Thursday 3 October at Bristol University ICF collaborated on a launch event for the new publication, The Place Is Here: The Work of Black Artists in 1980s Britain, continuing the legacy of the international exhibition The Place is Here (2016-17).

The Place is Here exhibition traced the urgent and wide-ranging conversations taking place between black artists, writers and thinkers in Britain during the 1980s. The exhibitions brought together over 100 works by 40 artists and collectives, spanning painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video and expanded archival displays, examining this critical decade for British culture. The exhibition was shown at Van Abbemuseum (2016); Nottingham Contemporary; the South London Gallery; and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (all 2017).

The publication’s editors Nick Aikens and Elizabeth Robles were joined by David Bailey and Jessica Taylor of the International Curators Forum for an evening unravelling the intellectual, aesthetic and political concerns addressed in the book. Featuring creative responses by artist, writer and researcher susan pui san lok and Spike Island artist Valda Jackson.

The Place Is Here: The Work of Black Artists in 1980s Britain is edited by Nick Aikens and Elizabeth Robles and published by Sternberg Press and Van Abbemuseum.

Image: David A. Bailey, Family Album, 1987. Silver gelatin print. Image courtesy the artist. ICF

Diaspora Pavilion 2: Research & Development Trip to Istanbul

Diaspora Pavilion 2:
Research & Development Trip to Istanbul


ICF is undertaking the re-development of the Diaspora Pavilion project model, which was initially tested between 2016 and 2018 with a professional development programme for 10 emerging artists, which included exhibitions in Venice and Wolverhampton. The first stage of the re-development process involves initiating conversations with a group of selected artists by inviting them to actively participate in a trip organised by the ICF team centred around the opening of a major international Biennial. 

The second trip in this series was to Istanbul during the opening days of the 16th Istanbul Biennial (12 – 13 September 2019), entitled ‘The Seventh Continent’ and curated by Nicolas Bourriaud. The impetus for selecting this Biennial as a case study for the research and development phase of the programme is the curator’s exploration of the cultural consequences of the human impact on the world. In his exhibition statement Bourriaud said, “The Seventh Continent is an anthology of an off-centred world and an archaeology of our times. It shows today’s artistic production as a multiverse, an archipelago of differences, away from normative continents and massive entities. It define art as a molecular anthropology, which studies the human effects, tracks and prints in the universe, and their interaction with non-humans.” 

The artists who participated in this trip are Daniela Yohannes, Lungiswa Gqunta, Jade Montserrat and Kashif Nadim Chaudry.  

Supported by the Outset Contemporary Art Fund

Thirteen Ways of Looking / NAWM x ICF Curatorial Residency

An animation of a butterfly between two heads

Thirteen Ways of Looking

An exhibition by Dr Sylvia Theuri, the New Art West Midlands & International Curators Forum Curator in Residence

at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry (2 October – 13 December 2020)

An animation of a butterfly between two heads

Image courtesy Shiyi Li (2020)

The title of this exhibition is inspired by Wallace Stevens’ poem ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ (1917). The thirteen verses of the poem each describe the presence and movement of a blackbird in a different way – creating multiple perspectives and viewpoints of the bird. The blackbird in the poem symbolises the importance of flexibility and fluidity in order to create space for multiple forms of experience, knowledge and understanding.

This exhibition borrows from Stevens’ approach, bringing together existing and newly commissioned artworks by thirteen artists and curators. Their working practices bring forward international, multicultural, multi-faith and feminist perspectives which shift very much like those of the blackbird in the poem.

Thirteen Ways of Looking explores different strategies of resistance that overlap and intersect in the physical spaces of the gallery and digitally online. They challenge where art belongs, where it’s experienced and who is being addressed.

The participating artists and curators are: Hira Butt, Eddie Chambers, Sonya Dyer, Andreana Fatta, Hyphen-Labs, Navi Kaur, Shama Khanna, Roshini Kempadoo, Shiyi Li, Farwa Moledina, Keith Piper, Donald Rodney and Matías Serra Delmar.

An exhibition curated by Dr Sylvia Theuri.

A New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curatorial Residency in partnership with and hosted by Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in association with Coventry Biennial.

Explore the exhibition on Google Arts

Images courtesy Garry Jones

The NAWM & ICF Curatorial Residency at the Herbert (August 2019 – December 2020):

Dr. Sylvia Theuri was appointed as New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curator in Residence in partnership with and hosted by the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in association with Coventry Biennial in August 2019.

Sylvia was selected for the post by a panel of arts professionals through an open call to curators based in and affiliated with the West Midlands. The post was made possible through partnership with the Herbert Art Gallery and International Curators Forum, as part of a New Art West Midlands programme supporting new talent and perspectives funded by Arts Council England. The partnership with International Curators Forum provided professional development support and mentorship for Sylvia, as well as access to international networks and contexts – part of a distinctive professional development package that aims to create pathways into future opportunities for Sylvia and for the artists involved.

At the time of the appointment Sylvia noted: “I am excited to have taken on the role of Curator in Residence and to be a part of shaping the developing arts and culture in the city of Coventry where I live and call home. It is of great importance that we foster the visibility of and engagement with the visual arts to new and varied audiences, by ensuring that visual art spaces are not seen as ‘uninhabitable spaces’ but rather as welcoming and comfortable”.

The exhibition features 6 artists who were part of a cohort of 20 early-career artists selected by ICF and NAWN to exhibit as part of the 2019 Coventry Biennial. Talking about working with those artists to produce new work relating to Coventry, Sylvia says: “I am very much looking forward to working with a cohort of New Art West Midlands 2019 artists to help shape their professional development across the course of the next year towards a new exhibition in 2020”.

Craig Ashley, Director of New Art West Midlands, said: “We are delighted to announce Sylvia’s appointment and look forward to working with her over the next 12 months. She brings a distinctive approach and perspective, with ambitions to support and reflect the region’s very best talent.”




All of the logos for the organisations involved in the project

Diaspora Pavilion 2: Research & Development Trip to Venice

Diaspora Pavilion 2:
Research & Development Trip to Venice

ICF is undertaking the re-development of the Diaspora Pavilion project model, which was initially tested between 2016 and 2018 with a professional development programme for 10 emerging artists and included exhibitions in Venice and Wolverhampton. The first stage of the re-development process involves initiating conversations with a group of selected artists by inviting them to actively participate in a trip organised by the ICF team centred around the opening of a major international Biennale. 

The first trip in this series was to Venice during the opening days of the 58th Venice Biennale (10 – 14 May 2019), entitled May You Live In Interesting Times and curated by Ralph Rugoff. The impetus for selecting this Biennale as a case study is the project’s connection to Venice as the location of the 2017 Diaspora Pavilion and a prospective location for an exhibition in 2019, as well as the Diaspora Pavilion’s direct responsiveness to the limits of the notion of national pavilions in representing contemporary artistic practice. 

The artists who participated in this trip were Shiraz Bayjoo, Veronica Ryan, Sonia Barrett and Evariste Maiga. 

Supported by the Outset Contemporary Art Fund

Masterclass with Charles Gaines

Masterclass with Charles Gaines 

In collaboration with Afterall and Hauser & Wirth, ICF held a masterclass with US-based artist and curator Charles Gaines. During the event, Gaines spoke to a group of invited artists, curators and writers about his artistic practice and his groundbreaking 1993 exhibition The Theatre of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism. Gaines also spoke about The Theatre of Refusal, which foregrounded questions of structural racism by juxtaposing works by African-American artists with examples of their reception in mainstream art criticism, in a public talk at Whitechapel Gallery – the video link for which can be found here

Participants in the masterclass included: Farzana Khan, Sonia Dyer, Rosa Johan Udon, Amrita Dhallu, Ebun Sodipo, Danielle Brathwaite Shirley and Louis Hartnoll. 

ICF invitees to the Whitechapel talk included: Zadie Xa, Evariste Maiga, susan pui san lok, Paul Maheke, Barby Asante, Erika Tan, Lisa Anderson, Cynthia Silveira and Samboleap Tol.