Live Art Development Agency, London

In 1995 ICF’s Creative Director David A Bailey curated the exhibition Mirage: Enigmas of Race, Difference & Desire at the ICA in collaboration with Iniva. This landmark project marked a moment of considering the importance of Franz Fanon and ways in which his writings on post-colonialism, identity, cinema and psychoanalysis intertwined with artistic practices and race.

Research into the legacy of this project has been made possible with funding from the Arts Council England and part of that research involved a discussion event with artists from the original Mirage project and artists from subsequent generations, in order to reflect on the contemporary moment in relation to structural violence, de-colonising culture and relations, and the power of aesthetics and its explorations of complex formations of racial identities.

This became a timely opportunity to look back at Mirage and review the present and future conditions in relation to the thematic structure set up by the original project.

Contributors to the conversation included:
Keith Khan
Barby Asante
Ria Hartley
Selina Thomson
Jamila Johnson Small
Alexandrina Helmsley

To hear an audio recording of the event click here

Tactical Interventions at the 56th Venice Biennale

Tactical Interventions at the 56th Venice Biennale 


During the opening days of the 56th Venice Biennale (May 6-9 2015), ICF in partnership with University of the Arts London and supported by Arts Council England, curated a public programme of events with a group of UK-based curators and artists. The group was selected as a result of an open call out to practitioners to join the ICF team in Venice to actively participate and report back on the events. 

The selected curators and artists included: 
Teresa Cisneros 
Tamar Clarke-Brown
Kasia Sobucka
Kelvin Okafor
Khadija Saye
Ray Fiasco 
Lubna Ashraf

Programme of Events:

ICF held an informal discussion on Sarah Lucas’ work at the British Pavilion, led by Jessica Taylor, Adelaide Bannerman & Teresa Cisneros on Friday 8 May   

Exhibiting artist Graham Fagen gave the group a guided tour of his work in the Scottish Pavilion on Friday 8 May   

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi of the Sharjah Art Foundation, which partnered with ICF on the Curating the International Diaspora programme, gave the group a tour of the United Arab Emirates pavilion in the Arsenale and invited the group to a networking event for the UAE pavilion at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum on Curator’s tour of the UAE Pavilion on Saturday 9 May 

ICF supported and participated in the 2015 Venice Agendas public symposium. The theme for this edition of VA was Crossing Boundaries – an open brief, which considered the many ways art not only trespasses geographical territories but how it crosses cultural, political and artistic boundaries.

ICF Creative Director David A. Bailey participated in a panel discussion under the title Closed Borders: Whose Boycott is it Anyway? which addressed the recent questioning of geographical boundaries globally, both democratically and by force, and the withdrawal of support by some European countries for various International artists and institutions that acts effectively as a boycott with cultural events being altered by political agendas. It set out to ask the questions: Is this a genuine support for civil rights or a convenient way for governments to play politics with culture; a boycott as a medieval throw back to the days of blockades and siege.  What is a boycott for, who is meant to benefit, who is meant to suffer?

Other speakers included Gilane Tawadros (Director of DACS), Sacha Craddock (curator/writer), Anna Bitkina,(co founder of Creative Association of Curators TOK, Russia), Sue Williamson (artist), Vassiliki Tzanakou, (curator/writer)  and Emeka Okereke (Artist, Founder and Artistic Director of Invisible Borders – The Trans-African project). 

ICF Chairman Mark Waugh and collaborator JW Stella chaired a panel entitled Open Borders: Where are you from? with speakers Marita Isobel Solberg (a musician, a visual artist and poet. A nomad of the world), Richard Demarco (curator of cross-cultural links, presenting artists such as Joseph Bueys and Marina Abramovic) Tony Heaton ( artist, Chief Executive SHAPE), Ala Younis (Artist and curator based in Amman) Gaynor O’Flynn (artist and pioneer in interactive, inter disciplinary art). 

The discussion considered identity – asking the question ‘do artists belong to one culture or are they citizens of the world?’ There has always been an appropriation of artist’s heritage, but does art and culture belong to everyone? Debate asks questions about statehood, effects of global migration on cultural boundaries, and if it matters where you are from?

The 2015 Venice Biennale was of huge importance to the group given the ground-breaking work of its artistic director Okwui Enwezor and his connections to the ICF. Entitled All the World’s Futures, Enwezor’s Biennale explored “The ruptures that surround and abound around every corner of the global landscape today recall the evanescent debris of previous catastrophes piled at the feet of the angel of history in Angelus Novus. How can the current disquiet of our time be properly grasped, made comprehensible, examined, and articulated? Over the course of the last two centuries the radical changes have made new and fascinating ideas subject matter for artists, writers, filmmakers, performers, composers, musicians. It is with this recognition that the 56th International Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia proposes All the World’s Futures a project devoted to a fresh appraisal of the relationship of art and artists to the current state of things”.

This trip would act as a springboard for launching the Diaspora Pavilion and Beyond the Frame professional development programmes. Both Khadija Saye and Kasia Sobucka would participate in those programmes, and Okwui Enwezor would later lead two masterclasses for ICF’s Beyond the Frame programme, one in February 2017 at Haus der Kunst in Munch and the other in Kassel in July 2017, during which he discussed his 2002 Documenta exhibition alongside curator Mark Nash and artist Isaac Julien, who would also become a mentor for and exhibiting artist in the Diaspora Pavilion project. 

On Interpretation

On Interpretation

CCW Graduate School, London

On 27 November 2014 ICF presented a panel discussion with speakers Robert Storr, Bernd Behr and Rebecca Heald at CCW Graduate School. On Interpretation explored the relationship between the exhibition maker and the interpretation of the artist’s work, especially in the context of the Venice Biennale. The evening began with a keynote presentation by Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art who, in 2007, was the first American Commissioner of the Venice Biennale and has been described as a vital link between the museum world and academia. His presentation was followed by a panel discussion chaired by David A Bailey, Visiting Professor at CCW and the Creative Director of ICF.  Panel members included Rebecca Heald, independent curator and tutor for the Royal College of Art Curating Contemporary Art programme and Bernd Behr, artist, lecturer in photography at UAL and participant in the 2013 Venice Biennale Taiwan Pavilion. 

Audio recording:

Curating in the Caribbean

Curating in the Caribbean

Curating in the Caribbean

Curating in the Caribbean is a publication produced in 2012 that brings together a wide range of authors, all of whom were born and/or work in the Caribbean, who were invited to contribute essays which explore the current curatorial drive within the Caribbean. The theme of curatorship is considered in its broadest context, and encompasses many different projects and initiatives aimed at creating a platform for the visual arts, making visual art ‘visible’ by bringing it to a wider audience and broadening the critical discussion around it.

Curating in the Caribbean is a unique document—unique in the sense of its Caribbean perspective and unique in how the project emerged out of the Black Diaspora Visual Arts (BDVA) programme. This programme began in 2007 as a strategic legacy of the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade commemorative year, led by the Barbados National Art Gallery Committee and the International Curators Forum (ICF)—a UK-based network set up to address emerging international issues and a range of themes related to contemporary curatorial practice in the Black Diaspora and visual culture in the twenty-first century.

  • The BDVA programme has included exhibitions, installations and arts events, as well as a series of salons, seminars, symposia and conferences hosted in Barbados and benefitting other parts of the Caribbean. Its aims include:
    Raising the profile locally, nationally and internationally of Barbadian visual artists and curators
  • Inviting international visual artists and curators to Barbados to establish different fora for intercultural dialogue and professional development opportunities
  • Preparing a 10 year strategic plan for the project in conjunction with the next ‘Grand Tour’ in 2017, during the Venice Biennale and Documenta.

A number of leading scholars, curators and artists have been invited to participate in intercultural dialogue and knowledge exchange at symposia held in March 2008 and February 2009, the latter taking as its starting point generational shifts in the post-war history of the Black Diasporic arts.

The third symposium in the series on ‘Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity’ took place in Barbados on 1 December 2009, as part of a broader conference in collaboration with the Museums Association of the Caribbean, the Barbados Museum and Historical Society and the International Council of Museums. The symposium focused on the intercultural competencies that support the professional development of cultural leaders and the promotion of formal and informal peer support networks with arts practitioners in Barbados and the Caribbean Islands across the Black Diaspora.

It was in support of BDVA’s strategic plan, that the National Art Gallery Committee and the Barbados Museum and Historical Society collaborated with the Prince Claus Fund, the International Curators Forum and The Green Box on the production of a publication on the theme of Curating in the Caribbean as a forum for the visual arts. It was envisaged that this publication will document the ideas generated and progress made to date in artistic and professional quality with recommendations on frameworks and platforms for future international cultural and knowledge exchange across the Black Diaspora.

In this context it was always envisaged that the publication will be used as an advocacy document to raise the international profile of artists and curators living and working in the Caribbean Islands, and to promote opportunities for international exchanges between visual arts agencies and institutions across the Diaspora.

Curating in the Caribbean seeks to contextualise the cultural production of post-war Black Art against the background of generational shifts as a result of migration across the Diaspora. Furthermore, the publication has proven both relevant and instructive for delivering a Caribbean agenda of social inclusion and community cohesion by using visual art as a medium for breaking the silences common in the post-colonial constellation of developing countries. The publication will be an important addition to the canon of Caribbean art literature.

Finally, we see Curating in the Caribbean as a strategic platform for intercultural exchange between artists, curators, gallery directors and scholars living and working in the Caribbean and the broader region, helping to deliver globally new international working and adult education outreach programmes, through skills development and knowledge exchange. The publication acts as an agency to the power of culture, through providing intellectual ballast and new audiences for the canon of social commentary produced by Caribbean visual artists.

Edited by David A. Bailey, Alissandra Cummins, Axel Lapp and Allison Thompson

Included essays:
José Manuel Noceda Fernández – Islands in the Sun – Caribbean Art in the 1990s
Claire Tancons – Curating Carnival? Performance in Contemporary Caribbean Art
Barbara Prézeau Stephenson – Haiti Now – The Art of Mutants
Sara Herman – Unconscious Curatorships
Krista A. Thompson – How to Install Art as a Caribbeanist
Winston Kellman – The Invisibility of the Visual Arts in the Barbadian Consciousness
Jennifer Smit – Curating in Curaçao
Dominique Brebion – Act Locally and Think Globally
Veerle Poupeye – Curating in the Caribbean – Changing Curatorial Practice and Contestation in Jamaica

Purchase the book or Purchase the e-book via The Green Box Publishers (ISBN 978-3-941644-32-8)

This book was made possible with support from  Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development