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Black Cultural Archives explore “States of Blackness” with exhibition sponsored by US Embassy

The Black Cultural Archives is curating an exhibition sponsored by the US Embassy in London called “States of Blackness”.

BCA’s description of the exhibition is simple: “States of Blackness showcases the different ways Blackness can be expressed.”

Curated by Lisa Anderson and installed by Hannah John, the exhibition features six selected artists. They are;Jamal Ademola, Stephanie Brown, Lewinale Havette, Kay Hickman, Alexis Mcrigg and Jasmine Murrell.

One of the six artists is Nigerian - American interdisciplinary artist, animator, actor, and filmmaker Jamal Ademola who is making his UK debut with this exhibition and expressed his pleasure at being selected.

In an interview with Urban Kapital he said:

“I didn't choose them [BCA], they chose me, and I was happy to be chosen”.

“I agreed to work with them because they are a historical organisation that centres black people and African descendants in the diaspora. And to have a museum or a cultural archive that decentres whiteness and puts the history and stories and the experiences of black people at the forefront, it was easy to say yes. It is so rare that we can do that.”

Artist: Jamal Ademola

He submitted his works “I Dreamed of Seeing Myself” and “I Forever am” for the exhibition.

Jamal shares his inspiration as he gives details of both pieces.

“I Forever Am" is a video art installation, which features a cosmic Yoruba who is a deity which creates a Universe. It is animated, and the work was inspired by the 2020 social justice protests opposing the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor

Like many people, I was very horrified by those events and very saddened by the state of race relations in the world.

Also, I was saddened because it felt like the black experience was being relegated to traumatic experiences. Slavery, police brutality, and just all of these. For me that work represents that blackness is not this trauma - but that blackness exists before all of these.”

Jamal’s other work includes a film also screened at the African Ancient Futures exhibition. An exhibition curated by Ethel Ruth-Tawe at (AWCA) A White Space Creative Agency, in his home country of Nigeria, and is now featured in the London exhibition. He explains:

“I Dreamed of Seeing Myself, which is also displayed in Nigeria, is a seven-minute film, very experimental that has different motifs. It stars Yrsa Daley-Ward who is a poet, an actress and a brilliant writer. Actor and musician Tunde Adebimpe of ''TV on the Radio'' band also sings the poem I wrote titled ''I Forever am" in this film.”

Jamal also commended the effort of New York-based Jeremiah Ojo of Ilèkùn Wa an African Arts advisory firm.

“He was instrumental in organizing the exhibition and was the liaison between all the USA artists and BCA”.

The BCA shared their mission and vision for the exhibition in a statement. Saying:

“As the home of Black British history, Black Cultural Archives is also committed to acknowledging our connectedness to the stories of Black people globally through a diasporic lens.”

“The original vision for BCA was inspired by American civil rights activist, Queen Mother Moore and as the US celebrates Black History Month this February, BCA's two exhibitions explore some of the connections between US and UK contemporary Black History.”

The exhibition ends the 5th of March 2023.

Other projects that are currently ongoing are the Till exhibition and the screening of the Feature Film Till.

The Till exhibition will display pictures to honour Emmet Till, an African American boy who was kidnapped, tortured, and lynched in Mississippi following an accusation of him assaulting a white woman in 1955. Till was only 14 at the time of his death.

The screening of the feature film which highlights the fight of Justice for Emmett Till by his mother Mamie Till after his unjust murder will be held on the 21st and 27th February and 2nd March 2023.


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