Exhibition Review: The Many Faces of Cultural Ipseity – Three Black Multimedia Artists at Carroll/Fletcher Gallery.

Rashaad Newsome

Upon entering the Carroll/Fletcher Gallery one is immediately welcomed by works from Rashaad Newsome. The most striking being “Herald” a hand-carved mahogany gold framed LED TV installation that encapsulates the elements of religiosity, monarchy and perhaps even masonry found in Hip Hop Culture.

Rashaad Newsome
“Herald” Installation by Rashaad Newsome, video available

Newsome uses a vast array of multimedia platforms to explore the ever-evolving nature of African-American culture, using bold images usually associated with certain elements of the culture including diamonds and gold. He addresses issues of race, sexuality, class and gender politics to evoke a sense of sociological understanding. I particularly enjoyed his performance video “Shade compositions” which acts as an evaluation of the body language most often associated with the African-American community.

Rashaad Newsome, Shade Compositions

(“Shade Compositions” by Rashaad Newsome, still and video)

We are then enter the world of John Akomfrah, with his two-screen installation “Transfigured Night”. Inspired by Richard Dehmel’s poem “Verkärte Nacht”, Akomfrah uses this media platform to explore the post-colonial experience. Looking at the promise of new beginnings that stem from the independence of post-colonial states to the almost parental assertions of colonialism. Akomfrah use of historical imagery and strong cinematic  perspectives really deliver a strong piece of audiovisual art.

John Akomfrah, Transfigured Night

(“Transfigured Night” by John Akomfrah, still and video)

The final segment of the exhibition presents Phoebe Boswell, an artist born in Kenya and brought up in the middle east, she uses her multicultural experience to explore how life memories shape individual identity. Using a multi-layered approach to tell this story combining traditional forms of artistic expression with digital technology, Boswell presents “The Matter of Memory”. We are immersed in a multimedia creation made up of animations, installations and drawings which take us on a journey through Boswell’s memories of ‘Home’. It is truly is an exceptional piece of work that cannot be written about, it must be experienced in the full sense of the word. Boswell’s talent and eye for detail ensures that “The Matter of Memory” is truly a memorable experience.

The exhibition which I have dubbed, “The Many Faces of Cultural Ipseity” is in London at the Caroll Fletcher Gallery until the 10th April and it is highly recommended.