2023. installation; UV printed birch ply, pine dowel, linen thread
Can publications be porous? iniva, Stuart Hall Library, London
24 May - 28 July
Can publications be porous? invites audiences to speculate a trajectory from out-of-print black feminist books to possible notions of publishing futures, offering ideas for collective transformation. This exhibition (with Sadia Pineda Hameed, Amber Akaunu, and Fauziya Johnson, co-curated with artist and cultural futurist Lauren Craig) takes the Stuart Hall Library as an experimental space to question the porosity of publishing in conceptual, existential, and material forms. Its two principal aims are to explore how artists consider, experiment with, and reject concepts of collectivity and individuality, and to expand awareness of, diversify, and horizontalise knowledge systems.
This exhibition is the third phase of a project initiated by Lauren Craig in 2021 under the title HerStories // Shelf Life, which brings together B/black women’s and non-binary people of colour’s creative writing and publishing collectives. Highlighting collaborative and rhizomatic methods of regenerative cultural production and dissemination, it takes a peek at the shelf life of collective publishing, from printed matter to digital to audiovisual.
Portal continues Sadia’s interest in the resonances of archival and oral histories and their communication through speculation, dramatisation and fictionalisation. Starting with a photograph of Sadia’s mother, Luisa, taken at Manila Airport in the Philippines on a trip home from London, the work reconstructs this image across 513 interlinked tablets of a beaded curtain. The reverse side features a fictionalised version of the contents of Luisa’s bag from the archival image. Past and future mementos fall out of the bag, including a framed image of Pinoy love team Guy and Pip, Catholic amulets, the yet to be published Uncut Funk, a photograph with husband Asad and a library card from future home borough Brent. These objects represent the complex ways in which colonialism and migration rupture and reform identity, postcolonial strategies of resistance, and the many gestures of ‘thrivival’, love and joy. The beaded curtain becomes a portal through this archival material, an invitation to disrupt the static image and a way to enter an alternate narrative where chronologies, fictions and symbols disarrange, entangle and merge.
Supported Arts Council England and Freelands Foundation.
Images: Emile Holba