Initiated during the first month of government-mandated lockdown, Autograph’s curatorial team Mark Sealy, Renée Mussai and Bindi Vora have been in close dialogue with a constituency of creative practitioners in the immediate artistic community, to develop this new series of artist commissions under the overarching title Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. For the first phase, Autograph have invited ten UK-based artists working with photography, film and lens-based media to create a new small-scale, open-ended visual arts project in response to the current crisis (or continue an existing project related to the theme). The second phase will encompass ten new writing commissions, where each writer – paired with one of the artists – will be tasked to produce a short essay contextualising these newly commissioned works in a critical cultural framework for dissemination.
Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other will initially launch on the Autograph website in autumn 2020 and in the meanwhile, they will be sharing project updates, curatorial reflections and in-conversations with the artists throughout the R&D process over the summer. The new commissions will reflect Autograph’s long-standing work advocating photography and film in relation to visual politics of rights, race and representation and as such, they reside within a well-established trajectory that began in 1989 with Joy Gregory’s seminal Autoportrait series; Autograph’s first artist commission. Over the organisation’s thirty-year history, they have commissioned numerous celebrated contemporary artists – such as Yinka Shonibare CBE, Zanele Muholi, Franklyn Rodgers, Ingrid Pollard, Faisal Abdu’Allah, Sammy Baloji, Omar Victor Diop, Phoebe Boswell, and Lina Iris Viktor, to name but a few.
Autograph was founded in 1988 by constituency of young artists, curators and activists from African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian cultural heritage who campaigned for their critical voices to be heard and artistic practices to made visible within a visual arts landscape marked by systemic exclusion and structural racism. Many of these conversations are ongoing to this date and the process of dismantling unequal systems of power a continual campaign of resistance, and refusal – now more urgent than ever, crucially invigorated by Black Lives Matter movements unfolding world-wide. In this climate, Autograph continues to work internationally as agents for social change within the visual arts, advocating for artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and for our critical mission ignited more than 30 years ago.
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