Ibrahim El-SalahiLakwena MaciverZak Ové

This immersive exhibition traces the legacy of Black British creativityVisionary curator Aindrea Emelife has taken over Christie’s with the most thrilling Black British artworks of the last four decades
Dazed Emily Dinsdale
 
Black Bold BritishCurated by Aindrea Emelife
Christies
1 – 22 October 2021


“I like to see my curatorial practice as a visual disruption; a trojan horse,” explains visionary independent curator and art historian, Aindrea Emelife. “I want people to go into exhibitions with one idea and have other ideas leap out at you, challenging and moving you at unexpected turns; asking you to look again at the history you thought you knew, or look closer, in this case, at a history that has been seldom looked at at all.”

 

Emelife’s latest exhibition, Bold Black British is a collaboration with Christie’s and traces the legacy of Black British creativity across multiple disciplines from the 1980s to the present day. Opening this weekend, the immersive experience will inhabit the quintessential establishmentarian art institution’s Great Room and continue into some of its “hallowed hallways” and antechambers. She tells us, “Opening weekend is when my utopic vision for the future of art really comes to play. I’m fascinated with how we can present fashion, photography, music in traditional art spaces.”


The show will feature emerging artists alongside the titans of Black British Art, such as James BarnorSonia BoyceIbrahim El-SalahiZak Ové, and Samson Kambalu. Emelife talks us through some of the many highlights: “I’m so thrilled to include work by Sonia Boyce and Marlene Smith, pivotal artists in the 80s and part of the BLK Art Group.” She tells Dazed, “The work of Ibrahim El-Salahi and Zac Ové works are triumphant. El-Salahi is a modernist genius and this painting – one of his last – has a haunting, elegiac quality that masterfully interweaves cross-cultural sources and personal experiences. And Hew Locke and John Akomfrah’s ruminations on commemoration and monuments and the public realm are timely catalysts for thinking.”


In addition to the vast array of visual arts, an adjacent multimedia room featuring video, film, and sound art will include work by poet Julian Knox as well as a collaboration between FKA twigs and filmmaker Emmanuel Adjei. Beneath the grand staircase, visitors will be also be greeted by an uplifting, life-affirming installation by artist Lakwena. Emelife says, “It sets the tone for inclusivity and accessibility – it is powerful.” 


Emelife is incisive about the potency of the exhibition and what she hopes it will achieve: “What we see is political. Taking up space is resistance. When walking through the gallery space hung with art, museum-goers act out and internalise a version of history… what happens when this space is infiltrated by those history has sought to exclude?” She continues, “These artists attack the function and purpose of art, refashioning it to create dynamic investigations that hold art and its preconceptions accountable. By doing so, the artists demand more from the medium and the viewer. I want to demand more from the viewer. I want to create exhibitions that bridge the ideas of the salon, that bring to life the archives of these artists and thrusts them into contemporary and future dialogues.”