Victoria and Albert Museum, London
November 16, 2012
Curating the Black Diaspora was a one day symposium organized by the Black Diaspora Visual Arts project in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum where the event was hosted. Discussion focused on facilitating knowledge exchange between contemporary art curators in the UK, the Caribbean and elsewhere, exploring models for collaborative and inclusive art/curatorial practices and examining the Caribbean ‘diaspora’ as the defining characteristic.
Symposium speakers included:
Veerle Poupeye, Director of the National Art Gallery of Jamaica who spoke about curating the ‘National’ in Jamaica; Holly Parotti, artist and independent curator spoke about the Annual Exhibition at the National Gallery of the Bahamas); Artist Sonia Boyce and Allison Thompson in conversation about Sonia’s “Crop Over” Project; Alanna Lockward, Independent Curator, Dominican Republic and Berlin discussed “De-Colonial Aesthetics”; Paul Goodwin, Associate Lecturer, MA Curating, Chelsea College of Art addressed “Caribbean Visual Discourse and Literature”.
The organizers partnered with Karen Alexander, Senior Tutor, Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art and included eight recent graduates who are now working as curators with various museums and organizations in the UK. They provided a dynamic addition to the group, offering many significant insights into a very fruitful discussion about future projects, possible models and opportunities for further collaboration.
Participants visited the V & A exhibition Exploring Hidden Histories, which presents an account of the Museum’s collections of art and design from Africa. The show acknowledges the Museum’s changing attitudes to African cultures from the 1850s to the present and includes many works which have never been on public view before. The V & A Curators in Print and Photography also organized a special viewing of works in their collection by artists from the Caribbean and diaspora. The symposium was followed by a reception and UK book launch of the recent publication Curating in the Caribbean.
The next two days consisted of gallery and exhibition visits which included the following:
Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou at the Nottingham Contemporary, an exhibition of 200 paintings, sculptures and sequin flags by 35 artists form the 1940s to the present day, curated by Alex Farquharson and Leah Gordon.
I is Another at the New Art Exchange, Nottingham, an exhibition of contemporary art from Jamaica including work by Peter Dean Rickards, Ebony Patterson and Nari Ward.
The Liverpool Biennial
The group attended a screening of John Akomfrah’s new work, The Unfinished Conversation, a three-channel video installation which focuses on Cultural Studies icon Stuart Hall, his memories and personal archives – one of the most acclaimed works at the Biennial.
The group also met with Paul Domela, Director of Programming for the Liverpool Biennial and Bryan Biggs, Director of the Bluecoat Art Centre.
Allison Thompson, Aica Caraïbe du sud
Curating the Black Diaspora was supported by the Commonwealth Foundation, the ICF (International
Curators Forum) the Barbados Museum and Historical Society and the V&A Museum. Special thanks to the V& A team of Anne Bancroft, Senior Book and Paper Conservator, Kaia Charles, Office Manager Contemporary Team and Zoe Whitley, Contemporary Team Curator and their newly formed “Caribbean Contemporary Working Group”.