A group exhibition, featuring work from John Akomfrah, Phoebe Boswell and Rashaad Newsome, will run from 7 March until 10 April at the Carroll / Fletcher gallery in Central London. Drawing on issues of identity, class, race and gender, these three artists explore the construction of identity on both a personal and cultural level, working in mixed mediums to tell their own narratives and those of the people around them.
Newsome’s work, ranging across performance, video, collage and sculpture, combines the ostentatious aesthetic of hip hop culture with that of the Baroque and often features tropes from pop-based culture, intertwining them with the gold embossed frames of the 17th century. He replaces the twisting torsos of muscular nudes and the drama of the Baroque with images of women’s bodies as objectified in modern culture. Newsome bedecks his compositions, often reminiscent of Baroque architecture and stucco decoration, oversized jewellery and motifs of modern wealth. His interest in heraldry draws on Western coats of arms, creating them instead out of objects from 21st century African-American culture. The result is a fearless confrontation of identity and the political issues surrounding race, gender and class.
Much as Newsome explores the cultural construction of identity within a community, John Akomfrah’s work focuses on the struggle for identity within a newly independent post-colonial state. His two-screen installation Transfigured Night (2013) explores the issues surrounding the loss, and subsequent reinvention, of identity within a community freed from centuries of colonial control.
Running throughout the exhibition is the compelling concern with personal experience and here individual narrative is projected as a means of creating personal identity within a wider cultural field. Born in Kenya, and having lived in the Middle East, Phoebe Boswell uses traditional draughtsmanship combined with digital technology to create drawings and animations tracking her own story and that of her family, as both Kenyans and expatriates. Winner of the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship in 2012, she draws on Kenya’s colonial past, creating immersive installations involving audio monologues and projected images to write her narrative.
John Akomfrah, Phoebe Boswell, Rashaad Newsome, 7 March – 10 April at Carroll / Fletcher, 56 – 57 Eastcastle Street London W1W 8EQ. For more information visit www.carrollfletcher.com.
1. Rashaad Newsome, TRAPAHOLIC, (2012), collage in custom frame. Image courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher.