Embodied Spaces

Framer Framed at the Tolhuistuin
, Amsterdam, Netherlands
18 Jun 2015 - 26 Jul 2015

Embodied Spaces

Alberta Whittle.Big_Red

FRAMER FRAMED presents Embodied Spaces at the Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam curated by Christine Eyene.

In this project, Eyene continues an ongoing cross-cultural dialogue with women and queer artists addressing the body, gender, and sexuality in their work within the frame of African, Caribbean, Pacific, Black and Romani cultural identities. The exhibition takes as point of departure Images and Conversations from the 1980s (2011) by Susan Walsh, a show reel gathering rare visual material featuring images of artworks by pioneering Black British women practitioners, as well as conversations between the artist and curator Lubaina Himid and several of her peers. Embodied Spaces draws from the diasporic context that has informed a gender-oriented curatorial practice and engages with Walsh’s piece through body narratives that question past and present spaces of representation.

Presented in the exhibition are mixed media works by Amsterdam-based artist Patricia Kaersenhout positing the black female body between absence and pornography leading to Jeannette Elhers’ video The Invisible Empire (2010) addressing modern slavery and human trafficking. Looking at body aesthetics, Hélène Jayet and Lisa Hilli address the stigma and beauty of Afro hair. Ope Lori’s video Deracination (2010) critiques a strand of Black British music videos in which black female bodies are replaced by white ones, while Cecilia Ferreira’s tragicomic disfigured Belle (2014) derides the pressure put on women to conform to mainstream beauty canons. The healing nature of self-portraiture associated to cathartic rituals is conveyed in Ferreira’s Chaos Within (2009) and Euridice Kala’s Unlike Other Santas… (2013). Evan Ifekoya’s video and performative multimedia pieces See Learn Teach (2012) and The Gender Song (2014) challenge notions of cisnormativity and gender roles. In her Dancehall posters series, Alberta Whittle performs both genders with stereotyped over sexualised female figures and hyper-masculinity. Finally, Shigeyuki Kihara’s triptych Fa’a fafine: In the Manner of a Woman (2004-05) both evokes the voyeuristic nature of ethnographic photography and asserts her third gender identity – an identity traditionally accepted in cultures from the Pacific.

Embodied Spaces is conceived in a manner that is not contained by the gallery space but spreads out across the Tolhuistuin – a multidisciplinary cultural venue – in the form of a public space display. Consisting predominantly of works of a personal or intimate nature, the project takes on a double approach, engaging with the idea that ‘the personal is political’ – as attributed to feminist artist Carol Hanisch in the late 1960s – and extending this assertion to the notion that the political belongs in the public sphere. The display concept also draws from the notion of ‘non-places’ defined by French anthropologist Marc Augé in Non-Lieux: Introduction à une Anthropologie de la Surmodernité (1992) who reflected on public places that hold no significance other than infrastructural, places of passing, of transience; places that nonetheless exist as the location of parallel forms of existence and creativity.

The exhibition features works by Delaine Le Bas in collaboration with Tara Darby (United Kingdom), Jeannette Ehlers (Trinidad/Denmark), Cecilia Ferreira (South Africa), Lisa Hilli (Papua New Guinea/Australia), Evan Ifekoya (Nigeria/United Kingdom), Hélène Jayet (Mali/France), Patricia Kaersenhout (Netherlands), Euridice Kala (Mozambique/South Africa), Shigeyuki Kihara (Samoa/New Zealand), Ope Lori (United Kingdom), Ronke Osinowo (United Kingdom), Susan Walsh (United Kingdom) and Alberta Whittle (Barbados/South Africa).

Alongside the exhibition is planned an intervention by Hélène Jayet with photo portraits shooting sessions on the theme of Afro hair open to the public, as well as an exciting programme of public events organised by Amal Alhaag, independent curator and co-founder of The Side Room, a space for intersectional feminist, queer and anti-colonial discourses and art.

Embodied Spaces is developed as part of the Making Histories Visible project, University of Central Lancashire, in collaboration with Framer Framed.

The project is supported by the Tolhuistuin and Mondriaan Fonds.


ENCOUNTERS | public program

The exhibition Embodied Spaces will be supplemented by an public program with film screenings, music, artist talks, and guided tours. This allowed for a deep reflection on the subject of the exhibition. On 23 June + 7 + 18 + 21 July  – 8pm & 18 July 4pm  -11pm 

23 June #PUBLIC: VENUS. The anti-hero Hero

Venus—The Anti-hero Hero is an interactive programme that explores the historically violent imageries surrounding Venus. Who is Venus? Nikki Minaj? Kim Kardashian? This event is part of the series of public and discursive events that are curated alongside to the exhibition Embodied Spaces by curator Christine Eyene at Framer Framed in Amsterdam. This event concludes the three exploratory reading sessions that were loosely based on three chapters from Suzan-Lori Park’s play Venus and connected to the themes of imagination, language and the body. Park’s play is based on the journey of Saartjie Baartman, a Khoi-San woman taken from South Africa in 1810 and exhibited in London and Paris. The reading of the exoticized body of Saartjie Baartman has influenced the iconography of the black female body in western visual cultures. Venus connects to current conversations on race, gender, sexuality, and voyeurism in the media. From Hottentot Venus to bootylicious – the female body, specifically, the black female body belongs to the spectators. How can we re-interpret and reclaim Venus despite the exploitation?

Together with the audience, academics, artists, activists and participants of the past readings we will explore and offer comparative perspectives on the myth and contemporary role of Venus and the historicization of the female black body in art, music and popular culture.

With: Quinsy Gario, Rehema Chachage, Shertise Selano, Hodan Warsame, Carolin Kamya

Venus— The Anti-hero Hero is developed in collaboration with theater director Milone Reigman. Rehema Chachage is currently based in Amsterdam as an artist in residency at the Thami Mnyele Foundation.






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