Diaspora Pavilion 2: Research & Development Trip to Venice

Diaspora Pavilion 2:
Research & Development Trip to Venice

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

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

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

Supported by the Outset Contemporary Art Fund

Masterclass with Charles Gaines

Masterclass with Charles Gaines 

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

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

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

Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Images courtesy Zunaira Muzaffar

Paul Dash in Conversation with David A. Bailey

Paul Dash in Conversation with David A. Bailey

at 198 Contemporary

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

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

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

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

A video of the conversation can be found here

Abbas Zahedi ‘MANNA from below’

Abbas Zahedi
‘MANNA from below’


Outset Partners Grants Awards Ceremony 

MANNA from below is a lecture performance series by Abbas Zahedi, which was initiated at ICF’s Diaspora Pavilion in Venice in 2017. Zahedi has since adapted the work into various formats and it continues to evolve in response to different exhibition and performance commissions. In March 2019 ICF invited Abbas to present an iteration of the MANNA from below lecture performance at the Royal Academy in London as part of the Outset Contemporary Art Fund Partners Grants Announcement, where ICF was awarded a grant for the development and delivery of the Diaspora Pavilion 2 programme between 2019 and 2021. 

Video copyright Abbas Zahedi. Video recorded by Samboleap Tol. Images courtesy Outset Contemporary Art Fund. 

Enam Gbewonyo: agbegbɔgbɔ

Enam Gbewonyo: agbegbɔgbɔ

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds 

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

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

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

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

*agbegbɔgbɔ – pronounced ag-bey-bor-bor

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

Images by Jerry Hardman-Jones

Migrating Cities

Migrating Cities

18 & 19 January 2019, 6:00 – 8:45 PM
Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, Hong Kong

Sound installation & film programme
Curated by Jessica Taylor & Gabria Lupone of the International Curators Forum
Comissioned by UAL Chelsea College of Arts 

This film programme brings together works by six international artists that address certain geopolitical, historical, cultural and economic relationships between specific cities and places. It explores narratives of global connections and exchange through the films of Larry Achiampong, Madiha Aijaz, Iván Argote, Mohau Modisakeng, Amie Siegel and Sam Smith. Sam Smith’s film Lithic Choreographies examines the geological history of the Swedish island of Gotland, Larry Achiampong uncovers fragments of the forgotten empire of the United Kingdom in Relic 1, and Madiha Aijaz’s These Silences Are All The Words takes its lead from a series of conversations held in the Bedil Library in 2017, examining a range of topics in Pakistani history and culture. Mohau Modisakeng meditates on the types of migration to and from South Africa in his work Passage, Iván Argote digs an imaginary channel from Indonesia to Colombia in As Far As We Could Get, while Amie Siegel’s film The Architects moves through various architecture studios in New York City, gazing uncompromisingly at the highly networked production of global architecture.

In addition to the film screening, conceptual artist Peter Adjaye will present a new soundscape entitled Sumsum as part of his ongoing Music for Architecture project.

Larry Achiampong – Relic 1 (2017)
The second film in what is currently a quadrilogy, Relic 1 forms part of a new multi-disciplinary project by Larry Achiampong titled Relic Traveller, which manifests in performance, audio, moving image and prose. Centred within themes related to Afrofuturism, Relic Traveller takes place across various landscapes and locations; the project builds upon a postcolonial perspective informed by technology, agency and the body, and narratives of migration. This speculative project considers the current social and political climate of our time, especially the rise of nationalism within the global West and tensions surrounding moments such as the United Kingdom’s ‘leave’ Brexit vote in 2016. Meanwhile, the African Union’s Pan African passport programme (also established in 2016) points toward the potential opening of borders across a unified African continent in the future. In the short film, a Relic Traveller aparates in sites across a seemingly desolate United Kingdom including sites such as the sound mirrors (Dungeness), Gwenapp Pit (Cornwall) and Wanstead Flats (London). With a mission of 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. Relic 1 was realised with funding from PS/Y and Arts Council England.

Madiha Aijaz – These Silences Are All The Words (2017-2018)
Taking its lead from a series of conversations held in the public libraries of Karachi, this work examines language in a postcolonial urban environment. Yet rather than allowing the viewer to witness these interactions in their entirety, Aijaz presents them as a series of oral fragments. Set against a backdrop of overflowing bookcases, black and white portraits and unoccupied desks, these reflections offer an insight into the formal structures and historical conventions at play in Persian and Urdu literature holdings. In this regard, the film also functions as a testament to the linguistic diversity of Karachi and Pakistan more broadly; a gesture that ultimately serves to unite the work with its accompanying materials. These Silences Are All The Words was commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, Karachi Biennale and The Tetley, as part of the New North and South, in collaboration with Hospitalfield and ROSL Arts.

Mohau Modisakeng – Passage (2017)
Passage meditates on slavery’s dismemberment of African identity and its enduring erasure of personal histories. In the film, we are confronted with a character – a woman with a hawk perched on her arm, a young man in a Trilby hat and a woman wrapped in a Basotho blanket. The arched shape of the boat frames each passenger with their heads pointed towards the prow of the boat, they are each traveling with a single possession. As the passengers lie motionless on their backs looking up at the sky they begin to perform a series of actions that move between gestures of struggle and resignation. A pool of water slowly forms beneath their bodies. The rising water gradually floods the well of the boat eventually leaving the passengers submerged while the boat is slowly sinking and eventually disappearing. In Passage, the ebb and flow of water, as both life giving and deadly, symbolises the many who have arrived or departed from South Africa in trade, as cargo or as transient bodies belonging to no particular state. In South Africa, systems of indentured labour and slavery were instituted by the Cape Colony in 1652 to meet the growing demand for labour. Dutch settlers imported people from the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia, Madagascar, East Africa and Angola, putting them to work on plantations and at ports. South Africa became a jostling ground between the Dutch and British, its native people rendered as mere commodities moving through the establishment of an industrialised mining economy, as labourers and as soldiers in the Anglo Boer and world wars. In Setswana the experience of life is referred to as a ‘passage’. The Setswana word for life, botshelo, means ‘to cross over’. As such, all human beings are referred to as bafeti (‘voyagers’), a word that points to the fact that the experience of life is transient; it has a beginning and an end, as with any voyage. Passage was commissioned by the South African Department of Arts and Culture on the occasion of the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia with the support of Ron Mandos, Tyburn and Whatiftheworld Gallery. The film features a score composed by Neo Muyanga and commissioned by the KT Wong Foundation with the support of Lady Linda Davies.

Sam Smith – Lithic Choreographies (2018)
Lithic Choreographies is an experimental documentary shot on the Swedish island of Gotland. It mines historical data, mingling it with speculative fictions, to chronicle different chapters embedded to the island’s geological strata. Working with locals to ground the film’s investigations within the myriad communities of Gotland, Smith seeks to re-imagine our modes of engagement with and contributions to ecological assemblages. Scanning the landscape characterised by palaeo-sea-stacks, fossil coastlines, concrete production plants and limestone quarries, the film focuses a lens on minerals circulated in economic, cultural and agricultural contexts. Lithic Choreographies was commissioned by International Art Space for spaced 3: north by southeast and produced in collaboration with Baltic Art Center. Courtesy the artist and 3+1 Arte Contemporânea, Lisbon.

Amie Siegel – The Architects (2014)
The Architects cuts transversally through the city of New York, moving through various architecture studios, from Fifth Avenue to Downtown to Brooklyn, creating a seamless timeline and a singular visual unfolding. The camera’s ceaseless parallel tracking takes in vast office spaces and gazes uncompromisingly at the highly networked production of global architecture. The view into this world is obscured by surfaces and layers of representation; facades, paintings, models, screens, windows – the very architectures of looking and seeing. The locations, objects and long horizontal desks frame the wide spectrum of practice, unveiling typologies of sameness and difference through the offices, between the lens of the camera and the view of Manhattan, always, and only, just outside the window. The Architects was commissioned by Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, as part of OfficeUS, the U.S. Pavilion at the 2014 International Architecture Biennale – La Biennale di Venezia. Courtesy the artist and Simon Preston Gallery, New York

Iván Argote – As Far As We Could Get (2017)
As Far As We Could Get contains documentary and fictional elements. Argote digs an imaginary channel from Indonesia to Colombia, or from the municipality of Palembang to a town called Neiva. The two cities are exact antipodes (a rare coincidence that only six more cities share worldwide). In both locations, the artist rented large billboards to announce simultaneously a feature film named La Venganza Del Amor (The Revenge of Love). Iván Argote boarded a plane to fly from South America to Asia. In either continent, and with the same directives, he met locals on a level playing field. His main focuses are young adults that are coincidentally born on the day the Berlin Wall came down. While enriching a once-in-a-century event with personal biographies, Argote investigates feelings as the tissue that takes influence on both, history and memory. Switching back and forth between two locations, the camera records more similarities than differences, brought to the point by bouncing basketballs always obeying gravity, thus drawing an imaginary line to the center of the world. The balls read as agents of globalisation mediating between continents but also between the world of leisure, sports marketing (the branding of basketball players began in the USA in the 1980s), neoliberalism, and contemporary art.

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

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

Beyond the Frame


Beyond the Frame 

Beyond the Frame was a two-year professional development programme for ten emerging UK-based curators. The programme involved one-to-one mentorship, five residencies at Iniva’s Stuart Hall Library and Metal Liverpool, networking opportunities with Arts Council Collection, Barbican Centre, Tate Modern and Whitechapel Gallery, and masterclasses with professionals such as Okwui Enwezor, Trevor Schoonmaker, Mark Nash, Gabi Ncgobo, Stefano Rabolli Pansera, Robert Storr, Hetain Patel & Skinder Hundal, Salah Hassan, Zoe Whitley & Hew Locke and Sally Tallant that addressed a range of subjects including fund raising, gallery management, specific curatorial projects and exhibitions, and curatorial skills development. 

The programme also included trips and site visits to major institutions, biennials and exhibitions including Haus der Kunst (Munich), Documenta (Kassel), Diaspora Pavilion & Venice Biennale, Sharjah Biennial & March Meeting, Berlin Biennial, Liverpool Biennial, New Art Exchange (Nottingham), Prospect New Orleans, Metal (Liverpool) and Wolverhampton Art Gallery. 

ICF also supported Beyond the Frame programme participants in realising their own projects in conjunction with the Diaspora Pavilion, such as Annie Kwan’s performance programme with her organisation Something Human in Venice in 2017, which included a performance with artist Libita Clayton in response to her work in the Pavilion and Katarzyna Sobucka’s collaboration with ICF on the closing programme of the Diaspora Pavilion, which included performances and screenings by four Polish artists in dialogue with the DP artists (two of which went on to be included in an event curated by Sobucka for her BTF x Metal residency in Liverpool the following year). 

Participating curators: Kat Anderson, Lisa Anderson, Azadeh Fatehrad, Enam Gbewonyo, Annie Jael Kwan, Sooree Pillay, Sunil Shah, Armindokht Shooshtari, Cynthia Silveira and Katarzyna Sobucka. 

Mentors: Adelaide Bannerman, Iwona Blazwick, Paul Goodwin, Skinder Hundal, Melanie Keen, Sally Tallant, Allison Thompson, Carol Tulloch and Zoe Whitley


Curated by Sunil Shah 

As part of the Beyond the Frame curatorial programme, Sunil Shah has undertaken a residency at Metal Liverpool, the result of which was a public screening and discussion programme at OUTPUT Gallery in Liverpool (27 – 30 September 2018) 

New York based artist/activist Sean Vegezzi’s film DMYCC (2017) was presented at OUTPUT gallery in Liverpool to initiate a dialogue about art in Liverpool and the space of its production and presentation. DMYCC documents 10 years of appropriating a disused, underground subway station in downtown lower Manhatten. In Vegezzi’s words, “DMYCC is an initialism that encompasses the physical space itself, the desire to gain access to it, and a shifting roster of efforts to install and enact a private recreational domain within it.”

Taking it’s setting as Liverpool’s Kazimier Gardens and its new gallery space, OUTPUT gallery, DMYCC (an acronym for Downtown Manhatten Youth Communty Club) is staged as a departure point for DLASC (Downtown Liverpool Art Space Conversation) in which local artists and cultural producers (speakers tbc) will be invited to discuss art spaces in Liverpool today and especially in light of the city’s high profile art institutions and its international biennial.

The Discussion event took place on 29 September (2-4 pm) with contributions from Danielle Waine, Sufea Mohamad Noor and Michael Lacey.

Sean Vegezzi, DMYCC, 2017

Sensational Bodies

Sensational Bodies

Sensational Bodies was an evening of performances and screenings by Adam Patterson (Barbados/Netherlands) and Rubiane Maia (Brazil/UK) curated by ICF curators Adelaide Bannerman and Jessica Taylor for the 2018 Jerwood Staging Series.

Adam Patterson presented a new performance, Bikkel (2018) and a film entitled Lookalook (2018), while Rubiane Maia premiered the performance This voice cuts me off, removing my feet from their place (2018) and screened Stones across the ocean: Northern hemisphere, part 1 (2017). Both artists explored the effects of colonisation on society and on the body through the establishment of power structures that breed violence, displacement and defensiveness. In their practices, both Patterson and Maia recognise the tendency to surround oneself with a cocoon or shell as protection against being trampled by these forces and consider forms of resistance, such as movement, understanding and love, that can enable them to learn to unlearn ways of seeing and being in these spaces in order to survive.

An interview between Adam Patterson and Jessica Taylor can be found here and an interview between Rubiane Maia and Adelaide Bannerman can be found here. 

Photos © Hydar Dewachi

Rubiane Maia
This voice cuts me off, removing my feet from their place. Performance in collaboration with Adelaide Bannerman (2018)

On January 15th 2018, Rubiane Maia committed to write every day for a year. It didn’t matter if only one word, one sentence, or several pages. She simply sat and wrote without having a definite direction. The performance ‘This voice cuts me off, removing my feet from their place’ initiated by the desire of weaving fragmented texts without beginning or end, into a personal narrative full of enquiries about life, memory, traumas and institutional power.

Stones across the ocean: Northern hemisphere, part 1. Film (2017) Throw a stone into the sea.

Repeat throwing. – Throw another stone into the sea. Repeat the act. – Repeating. – Repeat. – Stretch your arm toward the sky. – Throw this stone into the sea. – Gazing or observing the horizon. – Throw each stone into the sea with as much force as possible so they can continue their journey into the unknown. – Breathe. – Throw another stone into the sea so that together they can sail with less solitude. – Throw a lot of stones into the sea. – A deep breathing. – Repeat the gesture, relinquishing the state of fatigue, of immobility, and imagining that each stone will take the form of a small submarine cruising far away. – Distancing from the mainland. The video ‘Stones across the ocean’ was made in September 2017, five days before the birth of my son. In the folding of time between the present and my projected future.

Adam Patterson
Bikkel. Performance (2018)

Responding to particular constructions of masculinity, Adam Patterson presents a new performance entitled Bikkel. Its namesake referring to a man with an inauthentic strength or toughness, Bikkel adopts and re-imagines the motif of the sea urchin, depicting the spiked marine animal not as hard, brittle and defensive but as elastic and porous, with the capacity to be held and squeezed. Patterson’s approach to masculinity in this formation of Bikkel is inspired by Audre Lorde’s turn to love and softness as a means of survival and a tool of resistance against social expectations of gender.

Lookalook. Performance, digital video (2018). Documented by Logan C Thomas.

Lookalook documents a performative walk in Bridgetown, Barbados, using masquerade to characterise and personify the violence and (dis)possession experienced in being looked at, in being the object of another’s gaze. ‘Stinklook’ and ‘cut-eye’ are invoked by Lookalook, a monster born to give these mannerisms a sense of mythology.