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Blue Skies: A Conversation Series

Jillian Mayer - You'll Be Ok (2014)


Blue Skies – A Conversation Series

Jillian Mayer - You'll Be Ok (2014)

Earlier this year, during the height of the global pandemic and mandatory isolation, ICF sought to continue contact with and support of its network in myriad ways – one of which was a new strand of activity titled Blue Skies.

Initiated as a conversation series, Blue Skies fostered one-to-one and group conversations led by practitioners working across multiple disciplines on a proposed topic that could take into account the immediate and long-term impact of Covid-19 upon creative practice, personal and/or public life.

If participants also felt it possible, we welcomed speculations and encouraged hearing about identifications of foreseeable changes that they would like to pragmatically cohere – the parameters constituting what those desired changes were or could be, left open for interpretation. In the midst of (and exacerbated by) the Covid-19 lockdown, the world was also confronted with the glaring reality of the inequalities embedded in our societies, which several participants in the conversation series have chosen to address in their analysis of our current moment and possible futures.

Blue Skies commences with 14 conversations from participants based in Africa, Australia, Europe, India, South America, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, to be published in different audio-visual formats supported with closed captioning and downloadable transcripts between July and September 2020. These and future conversations will form a public, collective dialogue around the capacity for this moment to elicit change.

Image: Jillian Mayer, You’ll Be Okay video still (2014). Courtesy of David Castillo Gallery.

Vidisha Fadescha & Jyotsna Siddharth

have produced a conversational album titled 'Walking Upon Bodies,' in which they speak of individual preoccupations, precarities and vulnerabilities, while drawing attention to the macro systems that govern human beings in India.

Vidisha Fadescha & Jyotsna Siddharth

have produced a conversational album titled 'Walking Upon Bodies,' in which they speak of individual preoccupations, precarities and vulnerabilities, while drawing attention to the macro systems that govern human beings in India.

Rubiane Maia & Tom Nóbrega

reflect on being unable to get back to their homeland Brazil during the Covid pandemic and try to find some resonance amidst the overwhelming amount of information floating through the virtual space.

Rubiane Maia & Tom Nóbrega

reflect on being unable to get back to their homeland Brazil during the Covid pandemic and try to find some resonance amidst the overwhelming amount of information floating through the virtual space.

Rujunko Pugh & Marie-Therese Png

hold a conversation between their respective locations in Sydney, Australia and Oxford, UK about Afro-Asian perspectives, reflecting on this historic period of COVID-19 and BLM.

Rujunko Pugh & Marie-Therese Png

hold a conversation between their respective locations in Sydney, Australia and Oxford, UK about Afro-Asian perspectives, reflecting on this historic period of COVID-19 and BLM.

Simina Neagu, Valentina Bin & Andrea Phillips

speak about methodologies and practices for self-organisation in the UK arts sector, the future of art education, devaluation, de-professionalisation and rethinking art institutions as community centres.

Simina Neagu, Valentina Bin & Andrea Phillips

speak about methodologies and practices for self-organisation in the UK arts sector, the future of art education, devaluation, de-professionalisation and rethinking art institutions as community centres.

Season Butler & Françoise Vergès

are writers based in Germany/UK and France respectively. Their collaboration explores the potentials of truly internationalist, feminist, intersectional solidarities through dialogue and poetry.

Season Butler & Françoise Vergès

are writers based in Germany/UK and France respectively. Their collaboration explores the potentials of truly internationalist, feminist, intersectional solidarities through dialogue and poetry.

Jamila Johnson-Small & Giorgia Ohanesian Nardin

discuss the embodied emotional and psychic impact of conservatoire dance training and their wider research into marginalised forms of knowledge production and strategies for holding space without violence and cringe.

Jamila Johnson-Small & Giorgia Ohanesian Nardin

discuss the embodied emotional and psychic impact of conservatoire dance training and their wider research into marginalised forms of knowledge production and strategies for holding space without violence and cringe.

Naima Hassan & Anisa Daud

present a conversation on workers, wellbeing and care infrastructures in Nairobi and Oxford through an initial dialogue between the authors and six conversations with workers in both cities.

Naima Hassan & Anisa Daud

present a conversation on workers, wellbeing and care infrastructures in Nairobi and Oxford through an initial dialogue between the authors and six conversations with workers in both cities.

JAŠA Mrevlje-Pollak & Gorazd V. Mrevlje

are an artist and a psychiatrist, and a son and a father, whose conversation is a reflection on their relationship and recent events in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

JAŠA Mrevlje-Pollak & Gorazd V. Mrevlje

are an artist and a psychiatrist, and a son and a father, whose conversation is a reflection on their relationship and recent events in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Khaleb Brooks & Naeem Davis

are an artist and cultural curator based in London, UK. They will discuss the necessity for creating and nurturing ecologies of knowledge and support for the Black Trans community with a specific focus on trans masculinity.

Khaleb Brooks & Naeem Davis

are an artist and cultural curator based in London, UK. They will discuss the necessity for creating and nurturing ecologies of knowledge and support for the Black Trans community with a specific focus on trans masculinity.

Elijah Maja & Ibrahim Cissé with Dominique White & Adam Farah

participate in an open ended conversation that threaded provocations and questions together to explore current mind-states, strategies and thoughts on care and collectivity, alongside their individual practices.

Elijah Maja & Ibrahim Cissé with Dominique White & Adam Farah

participate in an open ended conversation that threaded provocations and questions together to explore current mind-states, strategies and thoughts on care and collectivity, alongside their individual practices.

Bhavisha Panchia & Leyya Mona Tawil (Lime Rickey International)

exchange ideas around the potentials of sonic disruption and noise as response to nationhood and displacement, and migration, through a series of conversations between Johannesburg and Detroit.

Bhavisha Panchia & Leyya Mona Tawil (Lime Rickey International)

exchange ideas around the potentials of sonic disruption and noise as response to nationhood and displacement, and migration, through a series of conversations between Johannesburg and Detroit.

Alex & Rory

are the anonymised names of an artist and a researcher based in the UK who have created space for a conversation around what change is necessary for reshaping the conditions of work and living for disabled and neuro-diverse people

Alex & Rory

are the anonymised names of an artist and a researcher based in the UK who have created space for a conversation around what change is necessary for reshaping the conditions of work and living for disabled and neuro-diverse people

Aidan Moesby & Claire Doherty

discuss leadership, change and the significance of context in curating and producing.

Aidan Moesby & Claire Doherty

discuss leadership, change and the significance of context in curating and producing.

Jillian Mayer & Adelaide Bannerman

The lead-image for the Blue Skies conversation series is a still from artist Jillian Mayer’s 2014 video 'You’ll Be Okay.' ICF approached Mayer to capture her reflection on the work itself, reviewing its original intent and it’s reading in the moment of the pandemic.

Jillian Mayer & Adelaide Bannerman

The lead-image for the Blue Skies conversation series is a still from artist Jillian Mayer’s 2014, video 'You’ll Be Okay.' ICF approached Mayer to capture her reflection on the work itself, reviewing its original intent and it’s reading in the moment of the pandemic.

Blue Skies at the 2020 Fringe Arts Bath Photomarathon
 

ICF was invited to propose a theme for the 2020 Fringe Arts Bath Photomarathon, so as an extension of the Blue Skies Conversation Series we asked participants in the Photomarathon to respond to the proposal that “Blue Skies is a way of imagining the potential for change in the midst of all that we are facing as a society.” View the online exhibition of the photos submitted on the FAB website. 

The Blue Skies Conversation Series is made possible with Art Fund support 

Art360 Foundation x ICF Curatorial Residency

Hope Strickland selected as Curator/Researcher in Residence

at Art360 Foundation in partnership with International Curators Forum 


We are thrilled to announce that Hope Strickland has been selected as Curator/Researcher in Residence at Art360 Foundation working with the archive of British-Guyanese artist Aubrey Williams. The residency is designed to encourage and facilitate new and dynamic readings of Williams’ work and practice through an active engagement with the archive.

Supported by ICF, Hope will review the materials – such as exhibition documents, photographs, personal correspondence, press clippings and political documents – in the archive and develop a new strand of research and analysis over the coming months.

Hope Strickland is a visual artist and ethnographic researcher from Manchester, UK. Her interests span feminist ecologies, the Black radical imagination and archival response: previous projects include an experimental documentary with the Windrush generation in South Manchester, using both archival materials and footage shot in a day centre for the Caribbean elderly. Hope will be commencing a practice-led PhD at UCL this September, exploring Haitian, female water deities as an opportunity for Black agency and watery resistance.

Through a nation-wide open call in May 2020 Art360 Foundation and International Curators Forum invited curators and researchers interested in engaging with and developing work around Williams’ archive to apply for the opportunity.

Born in Guyana, Williams is credited as being one of the most important post-war British painters, noted for bringing together a spectrum of visual references and cultural perspectives in his work. Trained as an agronomist, Williams held an array of interests from pre-Columbian iconography, classical music and ornithology, and was a founding member of the Caribbean Artists Movement.

Williams’ archive is currently held at Art360 Foundation in London, and work on it archive was underway before Covid-19, with documentation and reporting on the contents of the archive close to completion. Although physical access to the archive won’t be possible until social isolation measures change, Hope will utilise existing records to begin preliminary research remotely. The residency will continue with direct access to the archive at a future date and will run until February 2021.

Images: Aubrey Williams Archive (c) Aubrey Williams Estate. Photo: Art360 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.

Diaspora Pavilion Artists Roundtable

Diaspora Pavilion Artists Roundtable Discussion

Please note that due to Covid-19 and in compliance with government guidelines we have decided to postpone this event until further notice. Please subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on social media for updates on how we are staying in touch with our network digitally. 

Speakers: Shiraz Bayjoo, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Paul Maheke, Erika Tan & Zadie Xa 
Moderators: Adelaide Bannerman & Jessica Taylor

International Curators Forum is holding a roundtable discussion with artists engaged with the 2017 and forthcoming iterations of the Diaspora Pavilion project. The discussion will reflect on the 2017 Venice exhibition and the capacities of artistic and curatorial practice to complicate and interrogate diaspora as a concept and lived experience. The talk will highlight the approaches that the ICF team has adopted for the next iteration of the project to create a more sustainable and site specific programme of peripatetic research, exchanges and international events, set to unfold between 2020 and 2022. 

The first Diaspora Pavilion programme was launched in 2016 to support ten artists over two years in a professional development capacity and showcased their work alongside nine mentor artists in the Diaspora Pavilion exhibition, which was held in Venice during the 2017 Biennale and curated by David Bailey and Jessica Taylor. The success of the first Diaspora Pavilion exhibition led to a re-staging of a selection of the artworks at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in the UK in 2018 and has motivated a period of research and development undertaken by the ICF team as a means of developing a more sustainable and international exhibition model for the second phase of the project.

Diaspora Pavilion 2 will be an active, multi-site programme of exhibitions and events that will support and showcase the work of a group of international artists who engage with diaspora as a concept in their work. The programme will begin with an exhibition titled ‘I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney’ presented in collaboration with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Australia (16 April – 7 June 2020), which will create a dialogue between 3 UK-based and 3 Australia-based artists. With aims to hold further site-specific iterations of the project in Venice, London and the Caribbean between 2021 and 2022, the curators of DP2 are attempting to take a more critical look at the ways in which diaspora functions as a distinct sometimes provisional experience, nuanced economically, historically and regionally. This unfolding programme will interrogate and complicate the term diaspora through a series of conversations about the navigations, imaginings and lived experiences of diaspora subjectivities through the works of a group of artists from around the world.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS  

Shiraz Bayjoo (b. Mauritius; lives and works in London and Mauritius) 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.

Kashif Nadim Chaudry (b. Nottingham, United Kingdom; lives and works in Nottingham) 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. 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). Chaudry will exhibit in ‘I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney’ at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in collaboration with ICF.

Paul Maheke (b. Brive-la-Gaillarde, France; lives and works in London, United Kingdom) completed a MA in Art Practice at l’École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy in 2011 and a programme of study at Open School East, London/Margate in 2015. With a focus on dance, and through a varied and often collaborative body of work comprising performance, installation, sound and video, Maheke considers the potential of the body as an archive in order to examine how memory and identity are formed and constituted. Selected solo exhibitions include Levant, Ludlow 38, New York (2019); OOLOI, Triangle France, Marseille (2019); Diable Blanc, Galerie Sultana (2019); A fire circle for a public hearing, Vleeshal, Middelburg (2019). Selected group exhibitions and performances include Sénsa (performance with Nkisi and Ariel Efraim Ashbel), Abrons Art Center, New York, Performa 19 and Meetings on Art, 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Elements of Vogue, Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City (2019); Transcorporealities, Ludwig Museum, Cologne (2019); Le Fil d’Alerte, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris (2019); Get Up, Stand Up Now, Somerset House, London (2019); The Distance is Nowhere (performance with Sophie Mallett) ICA Miami (2019); Meetings on Art, 58th Venice Biennale (2019). Maheke exhibited in the 2017 Diaspora Pavilion.

Erika Tan leads a practice that is primarily research-led and manifests in multiple formats, with a leaning towards moving image, referencing distributed media in the form of cinema, gallery-based works, internet and digital practices. Evolving from an interest in anthropology and the moving image, her work is often informed by specific cultural, geographical or physical contexts. Her research interests focus on the postcolonial and transnational, working with archival artefacts, exhibition histories, received narratives, contested heritage, subjugated voices and the transnational movement of ideas, people and objects. She is currently the Stanley Picker Fellow in Fine Art; Decolonising Arts Institute Associate Researcher, UAL; and a lecturer on the B.A. Fine Art, 4D Pathway, Central Saint Martins, UAL. Her work has been exhibited, collected and commissioned internationally including: A Place in the World, NUA Gallery, Norwich; Unrealised Commission, National Gallery, Singapore; On Attachments and Unknowns, Sa Sa Bassac, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Artist and Empire (Tate Touring, National Gallery Singapore 2016/7); Come Cannibalise Us, Why Don’t You (NUS Museum, Singapore 2014); There Is No Road (LABoral, Spain 2010); Thermocline of Art (ZKM, Germany 2007); Around The World in Eighty Days (South London Gallery / ICA 2007); The Singapore Biennale (2006); Cities on the Move (Hayward Gallery, London). Recent curatorial projects: Sonic Soundings/Venice Trajectories and an instigator of FLOW, 3 days of events at Asia-Art-Activism, Raven Row. Tan exhibited in the 2017 Diaspora Pavilion. 

Zadie Xa (b. Vancouver, Canada; 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). Xa will exhibit in ‘I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney’ at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in collaboration with ICF.

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL CURATORS FORUM (ICF)

ICF was founded in 2007 to publicly promote the work of cultural practitioners, and to encourage and develop artistic and curatorial practice and discourse about contemporary visual art across all forms. ICF does this through commissioning new works, exhibitions, public programmes and events. ICF also promotes and supports the professional development and public visibility of cultural practitioners through programmes that include public exhibitions and events, mentoring and masterclasses. The 2016-18 programmes Diaspora Pavilion and Beyond the Frame were nationally and internationally notable for their innovative proposals and approaches to addressing professional development and cultural diversity. Both programmes were presented in partnership with University of the Arts London, and were co-directed by David Bailey, Mark Crawley, Nicola Green and Peter Clayton. Other ICF projects include: Tactical Interventions (Venice, Kassel, Munster, Istanbul in 2007), The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age (Sydney Biennial in 2010), Caribbean Pavilion (Liverpool Biennial in 2010), Black Diaspora Visual Art (2011-2), Curating the International Diaspora (London, Gwangju, Sharjah, Barbados and Martinique 2016-7), Sensational Bodies (2017) and Migrating Cities (2019). ICF is currently developing the Diaspora Pavilion 2 programme (2019 – 2021).

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.

Presenting Partners: 

Supporting Partners: 

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’

Please note that due to Covid-19 and in compliance with government guidelines we have decided to postpone this event until further notice. Please subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on social media for updates on how we are staying in touch with our network digitally. 

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 ICF’s Diaspora Pavilion 2 programme. 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.

Watch video interviews with the exhibiting artists

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-conceptualised identities and notions 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).

Images: Daniela Yohannes, Atopias: I Have Left that Dark Cave Forever, My Body has Blended with Hers (2019) Video still; photo courtesy the artist. 

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

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

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.

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