New Art Exchange, Nottingham, United Kingdom 14 Jan 2017 - 19 Mar 2017
Kimathi Donkor, When shall we 3 (Scenes from the life of Njinga Mbandi) 2010, oils, linen, wood, staples, 160 x 105 cm
UNTITLED: art on the conditions of our time proposes an open platform to experience artworks by the leading generation of contemporary African diaspora artists in the UK.
This significant exhibition, produced by New Art Exchange, Nottingham,charts current strategies and modes of creation in a vast range of media including painting, drawing, performance, film, printmaking, bookbinding, socially engaged practice and gaming technology. Through twelve artists’ perspectives, these works explore offer unique approaches and viewpoints on our present cultural condition.
The renowned artists within the exhibition map a variety of exciting artistic practices, allowing organic and unexpected connections to be made between the works. It activism and a critique of institutions, and history and conflict. The exhibition creates a stimulating open platform where ideas can interplay.
Curated by Paul Goodwin and Hansi Momodu-Gordon , UNTITLED proposes a new way to present works by African diaspora artists, with the energy of the exhibition being driven by a focus on the diverse range of practices and thematic concerns generated by the artists and artworks themselves.
The exhibition has been formed through extensive dialogue between the curators and artists. Momodu-Gordon explains: “UNTITLED is conceived as an open platform designed to facilitate direct encounters with the works of art; to foster open ended questions and to invite audiences to seek answers for themselves. The breadth of work on exhibition, from history painting to the use of gaming technology, live performance to sculpture, showcases the multiple, unbound, relational perspectives of contemporary artists in the UK. The exhibition will be an opportunity to experience new and rarely seen works, alongside more iconic pieces chosen to reflect the artists’ broader practice.”
Goodwin reflects on the key concerns of artists working today and how the artworks relate to current conditions of culture. He explains: “To be a young artist today, black or otherwise, is to be part of a generation that has more access to information through the internet, taking interest in global issues. In an increasingly visual society where we are constantly looking at phone and computer screens, artists are now drawing inspiration from all kinds of imagery and are questioning who controls these images and what they mean. This is not a show “about” a coherent movement – instead it presents works by British African diaspora artists outside of the usual framing – untitled.”
UNTITLED displays a ‘snapshot’ of art today by mapping a variety of practice and medium, including socially engaged practice and the use of online gaming technology; to painting, drawing, performance, film, printmaking and bookbinding. This broad survey approach reveals the key concerns of artists working today and as such, the current conditions of our time, from shifting racial, sexual and gendered identities, to investigations of popular culture, social networks, history and conflict. The show features two brand new commissions. Larry Achiampong and David Blandy premiere a new instalment of Finding Fanon, Gaiden, a series where the artists discover the work of political humanist Frantz Fanon as a way of retracing their own relationships to colonialism. Barby Asante‘s socially engaged project collaborates with young adults living in Nottingham as coresearchers of an interactive online map that visualises the hidden connections, and unconventional centres of local knowledge about art and culture.
Addressing the challenge in how collective memory is preserved, Kimathi Donkor‘s paintings re-imagine history, and Barbara Walker‘s charcoal drawings of black servicemen show their contribution and sacrifices which are often overlooked. Popular culture plays a leading role in Harold Offeh’s humorous re-enactments of iconic album covers, NT‘s montages of archival film footage, and through Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom‘s sculpture where balloons are playfully used to reenact Michael Jackson’s dance stance. Themes around the migrant crisis and globalisation prevail in Pheobe Boswell‘s large-scale drawing of the comings and goings in public space. Evan Ifekoya
is inspired by nightlife culture and performative movement, working in a range of mediums such as drawing, installation and video. Ima-Abasi Okon‘s site responsive installation explores ideas around language, knowledge and voice and makes reference to issues of access, permission and circulation. Cedar Lewisohn‘s presentation interrogates Modernist art histories through a labour intensive set of handbound books and accompanying woodblocks.
Larry Achiampong & David Blandy , Barby Asante, Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom, Phoebe Boswell, Kimathi Donkor, Evan Ifekoya, Cedar Lewisohn, Harold Offeh, Ima-Abasi Okon, NT, Barbara Walker