Newsletter: March 2016

This month, all eyes are on New York with the much anticipated Armory Show (March 3-6) and its spotlight on contemporary African art. Entitled African Perspectives, the 2016 Armory Focus curated by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba showcases artists from 14 galleries based in Africa, Europe and the US. The project features Kapwani Kiwanga as Armory Commissioned Artist. It also includes a two-day symposium (March 5-6) examining the diverse practices of artists, curators and collectors from Africa and the Diaspora through a series of panel discussions and video screenings, looking at new global phenomena in contemporary artistic production. See the detailed programme here.

Thin Black Line(s), exhibition view. Work by Claudette Johnson. Detail of photo by Denise Swanson.

In London, the Whitechapel Gallery revisits key chapters of Exhibition Histories with a conversation between artist Lubaina Himid and curator and researcher Paul Goodwin (March 3) around three seminal exhibitions Himid curated in early 1980s London: “Five Black Women”, Africa Centre (1983), “Black Women Time Now”, Battersea Arts Centre (1983-4) and “The Thin Black Line”, Institute of Contemporary Arts (1985). These projects introduced a radical generation of young Black and Asian women artists to the British art scene, challenging their previous invisibility. Selected pieces from these exhibitions were presented at Tate Britain in 2011/2012 as part of “Thin Black Line(s)” curated by Himid and Goodwin.

The event takes place on East London’s First Thursday that includes, among over 150 galleries, Calvert 22’s exhibition “Thing Fall Apart – Red Africa Season” (until Apr 3) and “Blind Plural” at Hundred Years Gallery a selection of works from this year’s open call. OUA collaborator François Larini features among the 28 artists with HA_HA a sound piece based on a field recording taken a few days after the January terror attack in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). The piece is part of OUA_BF a two-track release drawing on personal archive, inspired by a sixteen-year relationship with Burkina.


Next up, for International Women’s Day (March 8), Oxheys Mill Studios, Preston, presents “Family Album”, rare photographic works by Maud Sulter and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe made in the late 1980s and early 1990s; a showcase curated by Lubaina Himid who will be in conversation with photographer Ingrid Pollard at 2pm. Also open all day from 11am to 5pm is a special display called “Portraits: Black Women’s Lives” at the Making Histories Visible archive space, Centre for Contemporary Art. Maud Sulter is also one of the artists currently exhibited at Autograph ABP along with Mario Cravo Neto, until April 2. Find out more here.

Later in the month, the University of Bristol is hosting “Framing the Critical Decade: After the Black Arts Movement” (March 21-21), a conference bringing together scholars from across the humanities, critics and artists to engage questions around ‘Black British-ness’ and Black British creative production in the 20th and 21st centuries. Building on a growing interest in reassessing the role of the Black Arts Movement in the construction of contemporary ideas around race, national identity, gender and aesthetics, the conference asserts the continued and dynamic presence of the ‘Critical Decade’.


We finish the month at Rencontres Averroes (March 23-26) – the Mediterranean philosophical encounters named after Ibn Rushd, noted medieval Andalusian scholar – in Rabat, Morocco, to debate on race related issues in public and cultural spaces as part of a panel discussion organised by writer and critic Omar Berrada, co-director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, Marrakech. Berrada has just put on “Memory Games: Ahmed Bouanani Now”, a multifarious engagement with the work and archive of Moroccan writer-filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani (1938-2011) at Palais Bahia. This display is part of the Marrakech Biennale which 6th edition “Not New Now”, curated by Reem Fadda, is on until May 8th.

Watch this space for upcoming art news!

Cover image: Namsa Leuba, Untitled I Cocktail series, 2011. Courtesy Art Twenty One. Armory Show 2016.


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