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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 and Text.

I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney is an exhibition and the first of a series of peripatetic international events that culminate in ICF’s Diaspora Pavilion 2 project. 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is collaborating with ICF to present this unfolding series that will interrogate and complicate the term diaspora across various curatorial formats in Sydney, London, Venice and online. 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 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 25 July 2021.

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 program. 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

Daniela Yohannes, A Gathering in God’s Land (2018), digital collage.

Artist Biographies 

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (b. Port Kembla, Australia 1977 lives and works in Perth, Australia) is a sculpture 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 Swags & Tails as part of the Asia Triennial, Manchester, UK (2014), The Three Graces, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2016) and What is Home at National Trust Croome Court, Worcester (2019).

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); Lindy Lee: The Dark of Absolute Freedom, The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia (2014), and the group exhibition Divided Worlds: Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia (2018).

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.

Blue Skies: A Conversation Series


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.

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.

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