The inaugural exhibition at Goodman Gallery London seeks to create a space in which to imagine possibilities for social repair.
I've grown roses in this garden of mine takes it's title from South African artist Gabrielle Goliath's latest work This song is for..., a cycle of dedication songs chosen by survivors of rape, that evokes for audiences a sensory world of memory and feeling. This work sets the framework for a wider exploration of processes of healing from multiple geographies and generations.
The exhibition explores how varying approaches to exposing painful collective memories and experiences could initiate healing.
It is anchored by seminal works by major international artists Ghada Amer, El Anatsui, Broomberg & Chanarin, David Goldblatt, Alfredo Jaar, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, Ernesto Neto, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Carrie Mae Weems and Sue Williamson.
A new generation of international artists are introduced to UK and European audiences, including Kudzanai Chiurai, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Gabrielle Goliath, Haroon Gunn-Salie, Grada Kilomba, Misheck Masamvu, Mikhael Subotzky and Naama Tsabar. Many of these artists address post-colonial contexts by placing emphasis on personal experience and 'alternative' approaches to healing while rejecting the possibility of being cured.
A number of featured works use language as a lens to confront wounding experiences of 'othering'. Whereas Kudzanai Chiurai perceives language as a silencing, colonising tool, Grada Kilomba embraces words as a means of owning the narrative.
Alfredo Jaar and Shirin Neshat also treat language as a valuable tool, believing in the power of words to connect people and, in the case of Jaar's text-based neons, to inspire empathy with the demonised 'other'. Neshat's meticulous hand-written Arabic inscriptions overlaid onto portraits of Iranian and Arab youth poignantly link contemporary Iran with its mythical and historical past.
New photographic portraits of UK youth by Oliver Chanarin celebrates sexually 'othered' bodies in today's society, critiquing a narrow identity politics that has informed the Brexit mentality and forged notions of an 'essential' British character. In her experimental practice, Naama Tsabar invests in the power of charged everyday materials as subversive tools for transformative thinking, challenging oppressive gender roles.
Ghada Amer's explicit embroideries work to reverse the process by which women of colour are othered by focusing the gaze on an exoticised white female form. Using a needle and thread as radical tools of seduction, Amer creates delicately obscured pornographic forms and brings traditional 'women's craft' to a contemporary context.
Racial bias in contemporary America and apartheid South Africa is exposed in the photographic works of Carrie Mae Weems and David Goldblatt respectively. Expanding on this interrogative urge, Mikhael Subotzky takes a deconstructive approach, ripping apart colonial maps and pieces them back together using sticky-tape, which appear like plasters over a battered image.
Yinka Shonibare's famous 'African print' sculptures conveys the fragmented nature of cultural identities, challenging an 'essential' visual language that is assumed to be African. Also embracing fragmentation to create iconic large-scale works, El Anatsui uses discarded materials to reveal the ongoing effects of colonialism on consumption and the environment. Here thousands of tightly stitched together bottle tops form grand glistening metallic tapestries and become a tool for radical transformation.
The exhibition presents as yet unseen work in the UK by Paris-based artist Kapwani Kiwanga and digital healer Tabita Rezaire who have recently produced significant projects at London institutions. Both artists address the exhibition concept by uncovering African narratives of healing.
Kiwanga engages with methods of colonial resistance taken up during Tanzania's Maji Maji war (1905-1907)-one of the first major uprisings on the African continent-by highlighting the rallying impact of traditional healer Kinjeketile and comments on how this has been ethnographically documented in Europe's museums.
Through a lens of uncompromising self-care, Rezaire lays out the insidious histories of systemic social prejudice and uses ancient African technologies to restore physical and spiritual health with an emphasis on elevating women of colour. Ernesto Neto's immersive installation places similar emphasis on ancient spiritual practices as a contemporary means for collective healing. Kudzanai-Violet Hwami's vivid paintings draws on digital representations of Diasporic black bodies to ask questions around colonial routes, displacement and spirituality.
Works by 'born free' artists Misheck Masamvu and Nolan Oswald Dennis highlight a layered web of post-colonial wounds through distinct abstract visual languages. Masamvu's pioneering approach to oil paint-on-canvas combines German Expressionism with visual commentary on the Zimbabwean context, lulling audiences into a sense of familiarity in order to evoke a surprising sense of discomfort. Dennis's site-specific approach to exploring 'a black consciousness of space' brings diagrams and drawings together to unveil hidden narratives of oppression alongside healing technological and spiritual systems in view of reconfiguring the limits of our social and political imagination.
I've grown roses in this garden of mine reflects Goodman Gallery's long-standing commitment to artists whose practices confront entrenched power structures and champion social change.
Press release courtesy Goodman Gallery.