1:54 Must See, Lagos Space Program win, and more: This Week in Black Art and Culture

Above: Chinaedu Nwadibia, Show me the way (Zimuzo), 2022. Framed archival inkjet print. 42 x 56 in. 

Superposition Gallery presents Show Me the Light at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Harlem. AIAIAI and DJ Sherelle’s BEAUTIFUL record label have opened a free-to-use music production studio in North London. Lagos Space Programme has been announced the winner of the 2023 International Woolmark Prize. Read more in This Week in Black Art and Culture.

Superposition Presents First Solo Exhibit of ChinaeduNwadibia at I-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Superposition Gallery is presenting Show Me the Light—its first solo presentation of artworks by Chinaedu Nwadibia at booth #17 for the 2023 edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Harlem, New York City. 

Superposition’s multi-hyphenated and nomadic nature of programming and artist collaborations seeks to cultivate a community that circumvents antiquated notions prescribed by the Western canon in order to elevate international and emerging artists with a special focus on Black women and non-binary artists. 

Superposition Gallery will be at Booth 17 at 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which is on view for VIP and press preview on Thursday, May 18 and open to the public Friday, May 19-Sunday, May 21, 2023. The 2023 iteration will be held in a grand modern venue in the Manhattanville Factory District in West Harlem at 439 W. 127th St. 

Free-To-Use Music Production Studio Opens in North London

The Danish audio brand AIAIAI and London-based DJ Sherelle’s BEAUTIFUL record label have opened a free-to-use music production studio in North London. The space is intended for Black and queer artists to develop ideas and work on music using professional equipment, including AIAIAI’s renowned headphones, without financial and availability constraints. 

This initiative builds upon AIAIAI collaboration’s with Sherelle and her BEAUTIFUL platform, for which AIAIAI already has hosted a successful series of workshops and exhibitions that focused on uplifting amazing talent to support their development. 

Sherelle said, “In the current climate that we are in, many things are getting more expensive, and people need to divert their money elsewhere. It’s fantastic to have an initiative like this alongside AIAIAI, which also believes in the same principle of allowing people to create more freely. Hopefully, we can make more of these and do this internationally!” 

Created in 2021, BEAUTIFUL is Sherelle’s response to whitewashing and the erasure of both Black and queer history within electronic music. Using the BEAUTIFUL platform, Sherelle enlisted the help of established and emerging artists such as Loraine James, Scratcha DVA, Nia Archives and TAAHLIAH to release an 18-track compilation entitled BEAUTIFUL VOL. 1.

AIAIAI also has partnered with BEAUTIFUL to help fund a number of free activations for the BEAUTIFUL and wider Black and LGBTIQI+ community. Since last year AIAIAI has worked with Sherelle to refine a program to tackle some of the recurring barriers and obstacles faced by some Black and queer artists at the early stages of their development in becoming professionals, in the form of a pop-up headquarters for all things BEAUTIFUL. 

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue

On view April 4 through July 9, 2023, the exhibit Dawoud Bey & Carry May Weems: In Dialogue at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles brings together for the first time a focused selection of work from a period of over 40 years by two of today’s most important and influential photo-based artists. Each artist grapples with issues of race, class and representation in their work, making art grounded in the experiences and realities of Black Americans while also speaking to the broader human condition. 

“The Museum’s Department of Photographs has made great strides in recent years in building an exhibitions program that highlights more expansive narratives of photographic history,” said Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems are two artists who reframe American traumas that have been ignored or simplified in the national historical record. We are proud to showcase their work in dialogue with one another.” 

Jim Ganz, senior curator of photographs, added, “These artists are two of the most dynamic and insightful of our time. As presented in this extraordinary exhibition, their eloquent dialogue gives unique perspective on their shared concerns as image makers.” 

This exhibition is divided into five sections, starting with early pictures that both artists made in the photodocumentary tradition, followed by ambitious, groundbreaking explorations of the medium as it developed technologically and artistically. The exhibition then focuses on how both artists moved beyond candid pictures of everyday life to creating larger-scale work that is more planned than spontaneous. 

Bey’s portraiture evolved from street-based glimpses of the world made with a handheld camera to portraits that are formal but intimate, in which his subjects appear at ease and engage directly with the lens. With her Kitchen Table Series, Weems transitioned from representing real people in their natural environments to creating staged photo essays. For each artist, the techniques they developed in this period became the foundation for future projects. 

In conjunction with the exhibition, Getty has created a community program called L.A.: In Dialogue, inspired by the exhibition to bring Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue to a wider Los Angeles community, furthering the influence of the two artists and introducing their work to a new generation of artists and viewers. 

The artist-led program will host educational workshops for local teens and young adult photographers and will teach participants techniques in black-and-white photography and the artistic practice of capturing portraiture and place. They will explore themes from the exhibition, collaborate with peers, and explore their local communities: Culver City (Black Image Center), South L.A. (LA Commons), Downtown L.A. (Inner-City Arts) and Venice Beach (Venice Arts). This program will result in a satellite exhibition opening in June 2023. 

Lagos Space Programme Wins the 2023 International Woolmark Prize

Lagos Space Programme from Nigeria has been announced the winner of the 2023 International Woolmark Prize at a special event held in Paris. Lagos Space Programme is a conceptual non-binary design label by Adeju Thompson. It offers intellectual, ready-to-wear, high-end crafted collections while exploring parallel concepts through multidisciplinary collaboration projects. The brand impressed judges with its completeness in the collection and the way it explored and used Merino wool to tailor each piece. 

“What I loved was the story behind the brand, which is so important, and what they’re bringing to light in their community in Nigeria,” said Elizabeth von der Goltz. “They’re crafted beautifully and look like something you could buy in the most luxurious retailers in the world.” 

Thompson’s designs placed them on the shortlist for the LVMH Prize in 2021. The designer has shown collections in Milan, Lagos, Nigeria and Paris. The brand will show for the first time on the Paris men’s calendar this June. Lagos Space Programme also was featured in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum’s Africa Fashion exhibit last year. 

“Coming from Nigeria, there’s no support from the government, so getting support from the Woolmark Prize means a lot,” the designer said after receiving the prize. “I want to preserve and reinterpret Nigerian culture.” 

Thompson’s collection gives a new play to adire, the name given to indigo-dyed cloth produced by Yoruba women of southwestern Nigeria. “Historically in Yoruba society, the adire artist engaged with the medium as a process of storytelling for themselves and their community,” he explains. “I find parallels with code sharing in contemporary subcultures. In modern times, queer communities have also shared stories and messages through languages, symbols and gestures that carry meaning only within these groups. In addition to exploring queer semiotics, the collection is also a study of minimalism from an African point of view.” 

Founded in 1937 to promote wool on the global market, the competition has evolved into a pipeline funneling emerging and innovative designers into the industry. Former recipients of the prize include Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren and Dion Lee. 

An expert panel of judges, including Alessandro Sartori, Carine Roitfeld, Caroline de Maigret, Elizabeth von der Goltz, Francesco Risso, John Roberts, Pieter Mulier, Salehe Bembury, Shaway Yeh, Sinéad Burke, Tim Blanks and Tyler Mitchell selected the winners.

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