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

ICF and 4A present ‘I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney’

Exhibition dates: 16 April – 7 June 2020
Exhibition opening: Thursday 16 April 6-8pm
Location: 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (1
81 – 187 Hay Street, Sydney, Australia)

Exhibiting artists: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa and Daniela Yohannes.
Curators: Adelaide Bannerman, Mikala Tai and Jessica Taylor.

I am a heart beating in the world is the first of a series of peripatetic international events that culminate in the second edition of International Curators Forum’s (ICF) Diaspora Pavilion being planned to take place during the Venice Biennale 2021. 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is collaborating with ICF to present this unfolding series that will interrogate and complicate the term diaspora. As the first project of the series, I am a heart beating in the world presents the navigations, imaginings and lived experiences of diasporic subjectivities through the works of six artists based in Australia, the UK and Caribbean: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa, Daniela Yohannes.

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 in April bringing together early-career Australian curators alongside a UK based early career curator for a week-long professional development programme. The intensive will be facilitated through workshops, lectures, site visits and discussions.

This project is made possible with the support of the Outset Partners Grant.

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 ObjectAdelaide 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 Swags & Tails as part of the Asia Triennial, Manchester, UK (2014) and The Three Graces, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2016).

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. Recent exhibitions include the solo Lindy Lee: The Dark of Absolute Freedom, The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia (2014), and group exhibitions Divided Worlds: Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia (2018) and Marking Time, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2012).

Leyla Stevens (b. Cooroy, Australia 1982 lives and works between Bali, Indonesia and Sydney, Australia) is an Australian-Balinese artist and researcher who works predominately 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. Recent exhibitions include her solo presentations Their Sea is Always Hungry, UTS Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2019) and Of Love and Decomposition, Firstdraft, Sydney, Australia (2016) and group exhibitions 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).

Daniela Yohannes (b. 1982 lives and works in Guadeloupe, in the French Carribean) is a British-Eritrean/Ethiopian artist who, since training, as an illustrator has meandered through several disciplines before becoming an artist. Since moving to the Caribbean two years ago, her surroundings have found their way into her creations. She describes her inspiration as that of the invisible; the forces and concepts that drive and surround us: unseen but constantly at work on our bodies and minds. Her paintings and recent moving image works are witness to the expression of nature; explorations of the intimate experiences that are shared only with the elements: earth, air, water, and space. She confronts themes of the unconscious, race, identity and ancestry, the ethereal nature of the cosmos and plurality of the individual – interrogating the nature of belonging and what constitutes that feeling of ‘home’ and the impact and consequences of alienation. Recent solo exhibitions include; The Fall: A Woman’s descent into the Unconscious, Addis Fine Art Project Space London, UK, (2019), Beyond Voudou, The Pikture Gallery Bangkok, Thailand (2010) and group exhibitions Influence Project, Real Music Rebels East Wing Takeover, Somerset House London, UK, (2018) and House of Wahala Project Texas, USA (2017).

Zadie Xa (b. Vancouver, Canada 1983 lives and works in London, United Kingdom) explores the overlapping and conflation of cultures that inform self-conceptualisation identities and notion of self through performance, video, painting and textiles. Her layered textile works are sites for exploring contemporary identity construction and performance through cultural sampling, informed by her own experience within the Asian diaspora. Xa’s intricate, hand sewn wearable and performable garments stitch together a range of personally relevant imagery sourced from music, digital space, fashion, and art history. Xa has developed a system of personalised semiotics that propose entirely new images and objects, creating a personal visual language for articulating nuanced Asian identity narratives, which are frequently situated within fantastical or supernatural realms. Recent solo exhibitions include Meetings on Art performance program for the Venice Biennale open week (2019), Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation, Yarat Contemporary Art Space, Baku, Azerbaijan (2019) and Soju Sipping on a Sojourn to Saturn, Galeria Agustina Ferreyra, Mexico (2018).

Image: Zadie Xa, Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation, live performance as part of Art Night London 2019, devised with and performed by Iris Chan, Jia-Yu Corti, Mary Feliciano, Jihye Kim and Yumino Seki, percussion: Jihye Kim, choreographed by Jia-Yu Corti and Yumino Seki; photo: Matt Rowe.

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

PUBLIC PROGRAMME 

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

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

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

 

Launch Event
Thursday 3 October
7-9pm 
Wills Memorial Building
Bristol University
FREE and open to all 

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.  

This initiative is supported by the Outset Partners Grant. 

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. 

This initiative is supported by the Outset Patrons Grant. 

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, Daniella 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.

 

Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation


Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation
Discussion & Screening Event 

 

ICF presented a screening and discussion event at Birmingham City University to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry (The Macpherson Report) of 1999, following the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and the initial failed police investigation.

The event was curated by Ian Sergeant (curator and PhD researcher) as part of a larger ICF project inspired by Professor Stuart Hall, that explores ideas of race and cultural representation as articulated in and developed since the Macpherson Report through visual arts practices and discourse.

Presented in partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre in Leicester, this event aimed to raise awareness of Stephen’s death and the repercussions of the Macpherson report in shedding light on the police force and other public institutions labelled as ‘institutionally racist.’ The discussion also related to the current wider issue of knife crime and the focus on black youth as the main culprits of carrying out such attacks, which has been recently questioned by evidence produced by the Guardian columnist, Gary Younge. 

The panel included guest speakers:
Dr. Kennetta Hammond Perry (Director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, DeMontfort University, Leicester)
Craig Pinkney (PhD researcher and Lecturer in Criminology at University College Birmingham) 
Alison Cope (anti-knife crime campaigner)

The Macpherson Report identified the issue of ‘institutionalised racism’ within the Metropolitan Police force and within other such public and private institutions, suggesting institutional racism can be determined through “… [the] collective failure of an organisation to provide appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.” [Macpherson of Cluny, William, Sir; The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny. Home Office, London: Stationery Office, 1999] 

About the curator: Ian Sergeant has a MA in Contemporary Curatorial Practice from the School of Art, Birmingham City University. Recently curated exhibitions include Reimaging Donald Rodney, exploring the digital embodiment and rich legacy of the late Black British artist Donald Rodney. He is a director of performing and visual arts organisation Kalaboration, artist led exhibition space Ort Gallery. He is a PhD research student at Birmingham City University, his practice-led research is focused on the Visual Representations and Cultural (Re)Constructions of Black British Masculinity in 21st Century Birmingham

Images courtesy Zunaira Muzaffar

Paul Dash in Conversation with David A. Bailey


Paul Dash in Conversation with David A. Bailey at 198 Contemporary
 

On 14 March 2019, ICF’s Creative Director David A Bailey was in conversation with artist Paul Dash at 198 Contemporary to discuss Dash’s solo exhibition at the gallery. Not many artists wait until their 70’s for their first solo show, which demonstrates that Dash has not has the attention that his work merits. 198 Contemporary seeks to redress this by presenting Lifeline: A Retrospective of works by Paul Dash, which opened on 1 March. Lifeline was the first major solo exhibition by Dash and for the first time, brought together works from throughout his career, spanning the 1960’s to present day. The collection of works presented include figurative and semi-abstract large-scale paintings, and a selection of ink drawings focusing on several themes drawing on his Caribbean heritage such as carnival. Dash’s more recent work confronts the reality of the current refugee crisis in a series of sensitive pieces in ink, water colour and collage.

A member of the Windrush Generation, Dash migrated from Barbados to Oxfordshire in 1957 at the age of 11. After completing his foundation course at Oxford Polytechnic, he moved to London to study painting at Chelsea School of Art. However, he explains, his figurative approach caused some concern: “Staff a Chelsea didn’t take kindly to my love of more traditional figurative art-making practices… in the second year whilst painting a complex carnival piece, a member of staff stood behind me and pointedly said ‘figurative art is dead, it went out with Cezanne.’ When he left the room, I turned the picture upside down and painting an abstract over it. That was the beginning of my period in the wilderness as a creative being.”

Dash spent the majority of his professional career as an educator in arts and multicultural education, most notably as a lecturer and senior lecturer at Goldsmiths University for 20 years. Describing his journey as an artist, Dash says “It was some twelve years later whilst teaching at Haggerston Girls School in Hackney, that I painted the self-portrait showing in this exhibition. That was the start of a four decades’ crawl from the bleak shadows in which I subsided to a firmer connection with the lifeline that has given my life meaning. At times that line has shown signs of wear of threatened to break but it has held firm and enabled me to build a life of purpose, meaning and hope for the future through my ongoing art practice.”

When describing his work Dash identifies his painting practice as a ‘lifeline’ which brought him salvation through hardships in his experience as a person of the Windrush generation.

A video of the conversation can be found here

Enam Gbewonyo: agbegbɔgbɔ


Enam Gbewonyo: agbegbɔgbɔ

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds 

To mark the closing of Senga Nengudi’s first institutional solo exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute, on 17 February textile and performance artist Enam Gbewonyo delivered the performance piece agbegbɔgbɔ*. Meaning to breathe life or life force, agbegbɔgbɔ does so in a literal sense by once more activating Nengudi’s Sandmining piece.

The performance draws on the themes of Native American healing that inform this work and African tradition and ceremony that inform Nengudi’s Ceremony for Freeway Fets. Injected with symbology and cultural references particular to Gbewonyo’s heritage as a Ghanaian Ewe, the performance is both a response and a moment of pollination – the fusing of two cross-generational practices from polar worlds that are actually of the same mind and ethos.

Through this unison agbegbɔgbɔ becomes a symbol of endurance and journey both of the black diaspora and humankind. In real time it also provides a live healing space, enveloping its audience with the reverberating life force created by the energy of the performance.

Participating in this performance were Carmen Okome, a BA Fine Art student at the University of Leeds and Nii Kwartey Owoo, Director of Miishe African Music and Dance, Leeds. Okome’s practice focuses on expressions of identity and navigates the representation of the black female in current British culture through digital media, photography, painting, sculpture and performance. As Director of Miishe, Owoo’s heritage as a Ghanaian Ga underlies the original choreography he creates, fusing current global dance styles with the spiritual beliefs, storytelling and symbolism of the Ga people. Nii will bring agbegbɔgbɔ to life with live traditional Ewe drumming. 

*agbegbɔgbɔ – pronounced ag-bey-bor-bor

This event was a presented by HMI in collaboration with ICF. Enam participated in ICF’s Beyond the Frame programme (2016-2018). 

Images by Jerry Hardman-Jones

Migrating Cities


Migrating Cities 

Hong Kong 

ICF presented the project Migrating Cities in Hong Kong on 18 & 18 January 2019 in the Prison Yard of the Tai Kwun Art Centre. 
Curated by ICF Head of Programmes Jessica Taylor and Gabria Lupone, Migrating Cities included a film programme that brought together works by six international artists that address certain geopolitical, historical, cultural and economic relationships between specific cities and places. It explored narratives of global connections and exchange through the films of Larry Achiampong, Madiha Aijaz, Iván Argote, Mohau Modisakeng, Amie Siegel and Sam Smith.

Sam Smith’s film Lithic Choreographies examines the geological history of the Swedish island of Gotland, Larry Achiampong uncovers fragments of the forgotten empire of the United Kingdom in Relic 1, and Madiha Aijaz’s These Silences Are All The Words takes its lead from a series of conversations held in the Bedil Library in 2017, examining a range of topics in Pakistani history and culture. Mohau Modisakeng meditates on the types of migration to and from South Africa in his work Passage, Iván Argote digs an imaginary channel from Indonesia to Colombia in As Far As We Could Get, while Amie Siegel’s film The Architects moves through various architecture studios in New York City, gazing uncompromisingly at the highly networked production of global architecture.

ICF’s presentation in Hong Kong also included a newly produced sound work by conceptual artist Peter Adjaye entitled Sumsum in the entrance of the UAL Global Pavilion as part of his ongoing Music for Architecture project. 

Images: Larry Achiampong, Relic 1 (2017); Amie Siegel, The Architects (2014); Mohau Modisakeng, Passage (2017); Sam Smith, Lithic Choreographies (2018); Madiha Aijaz, These Silences Are All The Words (2017-8); Ivan Argote, As Far As We Could Get (2017). 

ICF was commissioned to curate this project by Chelsea College of Arts for the UAL Global Pavilion at Tai Kwun as part of the British Council Spark Festival.