What aspects of being the exhibition curator did you learn at Christie’s Education?
We spent a lot of time learning how well-researched curation can enhance the message of an art show. By relating the works to each other by context, colour or visual devices, you can help the audiences better understand it. We also practiced writing about works in depth, and relating our ideas to a specific theoretical research. This helped immensely when I was working on the curatorial statement and the communications messages.
Why did you decide to curate the exhibition Blacklisted: An Indefinite Revolution?
I have always wanted to show black artists in an institution like Christie’s, as it wouldn’t be something that would happen outside of this very specific context. The title of the show outlines the racially institutionalised structures of the art world which tends to repress the voice of young artists, limit the voice of black artists and furthermore, not acknowledge the voice of queer black artists. I wanted to give artists the opportunity to show their work under the name of such a prestigious brand, and bring established art professionals into contact with them.
What is the main message coming from the artists featured in this exhibition?
Their works are critics but also celebrations of the black experience. Some works show our culture of dance and music, whilst others use the body as a contemplative vessels of self-care and reflection. Some of the artists represent a queer black experience while others refer to the experience of immigration. Especially as artists living in London with different diasporic backgrounds, their cultural references to history of representation and understanding of the black body may be slightly different. The main message coming from the artists is that the black experience is not monolithic.
Why is it important to talk about this topic right now?
There are many unrepresented or poorly represented black artists in the UK art market. Many of the issues are to do with black pain, or refer to the dark history and repercussions of the Atlantic slave trade. Many works deal with immigration and try to subvert the poor visual stereotypes of black and brown people by using them in the works, which I believe continues to cement the problem. The artists that this exhibition represents, while referring to the issues I have mentioned, use those topics as tools to empower the images of the black body in their work. Their visual devices are not repressive and the expressions of the artists are different which I think is very important.
To make an appointment to see the exhibition, which runs from 21 February to 19 March at Christie’s Education London, email Cornah Willis.