Thirteen Ways of Looking
2 October – 13 December 2020. The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry
Thirteen Ways of Looking brings together 13 artists and curators, presenting works which challenge dominant narratives, where art belongs, where it’s experienced and who is being addressed.
Works by six early career artists from the West Midlands and seven established artists and curators have been selected, highlighting diverse forms of experience, knowledge and understanding, and exploring different strategies of resistance that overlap and intersect in the physical spaces of the gallery and digitally online.
The show includes six new commissions by artists from the West Midlands alongside selected key art works made by members of the Blk Art Group, highlighting its important connections to Coventry, including the initial meeting of group members Eddie Chambers and Keith Piper in the city 40 years ago.
The development of the exhibition has also included the facilitation of professional development and mentoring for the early career artists, to support and help them realise new work in uncertain times.
Participating artists and curators: Hira Butt, Eddie Chambers, Sonya Dyer, Andreana Fatta, Hyphen-Labs, Navi Kaur, Shama Khanna, Roshini Kempadoo, Shiyi Li, Farwa Moledina, Keith Piper, Donald Rodney and Matías Serra Delmar.
Thirteen Ways of Looking has been curated by Dr Sylvia Theuri through a New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curatorial Residency in partnership with and hosted by Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in association with Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art.
Participating artists and curators:
Hira Butt’s work explores ideologies of gender and cultural dominance, exploring the place of Pakistani women within marital and domestic spaces. Through personal experience and conversations with a number of married Pakistani women, the artist seeks to critique both the wedding day, and the life promised that often does not materialise.
Farwa Moledina works with pattern and textile, addressing issues surrounding feminism, faith, Muslim women and women of colour. She is interested in using pattern and textiles to challenge Western narratives and create pieces celebrating Muslim women, focusing on depicting iconic moments from the 21st century.
Andreana Fatta’s research-based practice is informed by Cypriot cultural displacement which she activates through archives; expressing colonisation, war, lost histories and identities. For this work, she will digitise photographs, home videos, letters and literature addressing Cyprus and its complex colonial history.
Shiyi Li’s work encompasses collaborative performances including contemporary jazz music, multi-screen animation projections, digital media and a live art performance. The work tells the story of a Chinese woman having recently migrated to a Western country, exploring the awakenings brought to her through her experience of entering a new space and location.
Navi Kaur focuses on the migrant experience, specifically around journeys, environment, storytelling and documentary. She explores the lives of her paternal grandparents encompassing their Sikh faith and daily regimes, working predominantly through the processes of digital photography, film and installation.
Matías Serra-Delmar’s work takes references from the raw materials found encircling construction sites in fast-growing cities across the world, to create both indoor and outdoor installations. For this work the artist will create different site-specific installations in and around the Herbert Gallery. The idea behind this is to break up the exhibition space and “decentre” the spectator from the usual way that the gallery space is utilised.
Keith Piper will be showing THIRTEEN DEAD 1981, created whilst he was a member of the BLK Art Group, in response to the New Cross Massacre – 1981 in which 13 young black people lost their lives in an apparent act of racist violence . Arrests were not made and there was a marked indifference by the white population, leading to protests from Black communities.
Donald Rodney (now deceased) will be represented by the work, Autoicon, a dynamic internet work and CD-ROM that simulates both the physical presence and elements of the creative personality of the artist Donald Rodney, who died from sickle-cell anaemia, o on loan from the artists’ estate. He will also be represented by How the West Was Won on loan from the Tate. How the West was Won from 1982 was painted when Rodney was only 21 and a student at Nottingham Trent University. It dates to a time when he was part of the BLK Art Group, group producing work that engaged directly with the socio-political issues of the time.
Roshini Kempadoo will be showing work from Virtual Exiles 1999-2000 This work explores the experiences of persons who have left their country of origin and who are now at ‘home’ in another. Engaging with historical, family and contemporary photographs of Guyana. Kempadoo will also be showing Moove…[s]In solidarity new photographic prints created during the pandemic, addressing both the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement and protests.
Hyphen-Labs will be showing the VR piece NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism using VR to tell stories and centre the experiences of women of colour. Created partly as a response to Black Lives Matter in relation to the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling In the US, the VR work shows Black women as neuroscientists using the domain of the beauty salon as a rebel underground network for a radically new shared system of communication.
Eddie Chambers’ work Deconstruction of the National Front, on loan from Tate, will be shown as part of the exhibition. Chambers was a founder member of the BLK Art Group in the early 1980s. Destruction of the National Front is a direct response to the appropriation of a national flag by a racist nationalist ideology. In the work Chambers makes use of the disruptive connotations of collage and montage to undo the association of the nation with fascism.
Sonya Dyer will be showing Hailing Frequencies Open – focussing on ongoing videos with Black women scientists. Hailing Frequencies Open (HFO), her current body of work, intersects the Greek myth of Andromeda, the dubious legacy of HeLa cells and actor Nichelle Nicols’ pioneering work in diversifying the NASA astronaut pool in the 1970s as the starting point for an exploration of Black female subjectivities within narratives of the future. HFO combines social justice with speculation, fantasy with the political.
Shama Khanna is the creator of Flatness a long-running commissioning and sharing platform. A website that showcases the work of a range of artists, allowing artwork to be seen outside of the gallery space. Shama Khanna will write a critical research piece about the site, looking at the ways in which through deconstruction and disorder it challenges the way audiences predominantly view and experience art within a white cube space.
An exhibition curated by Dr Sylvia Theuri.
A New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curatorial Residency in partnership with and hosted by Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in association with Coventry Biennial.