Larry Achiampong, Patty Chang, Shezad Dawood, Rhea Dillon, DeSe Escobar, Madelynn Green, Nadya Isabella, Athena Papadopoulos, Mohammed Sami and Urara Tsuchiya.
Curated by Kate Wong, Homeplace is a group exhibition featuring ten artists, both British based and international. Their works span a variety of media, from film to painting, ceramics and sculpture, yet are all linked by the deconstruction of domesticity and creation of a physical and psychological homeplace. The show is titled after an essay by bell hooks, who describes the home as a site of resistance and a place for community to emerge and be created.
Many of us have spent the past year at home and in doing so have become more familiar with our homes in a physical sense. This exhibition looks at the making of home to overturn traditional narratives of domesticity and femininity that are often associated with the home. With the exception of Madelynn Green’s The Kitchen (2018) and Patty Chang’s In Love (2001), the works featured were created during 2020 and 2021 when the artists themselves were articulating and interrogating these concepts during lockdown.
Athena Papadopoulos’s Cain Can’t (2020) is a large-scale mounted assemblage of photographs, oil paint, nail varnish, taxidermy birds, clothing, soft toys and other objects. Situated behind a veil of tights, a barrier is created between the internal and external space. Captivating not only in scale and use of materials explored, Papadopoulos filled large letters which become the basis of the composition. These letters are arranged to articulate the importance of vocabulary and duality. By interrogating perceptions of gender with historical narratives, the words taken from the title – ‘Cain’ and ‘Can’t’ – engage with one of mankind’s earliest moral dilemmas, the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The artwork incorporates elements of good and evil as well as gender through Papadopoulos’s imagination to create a body of work that transforms the space.
Asserting hooks’ words that the homeplace “is a place where Black people could affirm one another”, the scene which Madelynn Green depicts in The Kitchen (2018) displays these bonds. The large-scale oil painting is intimate, portraying her own family conversing by the kitchen island. The colour palette is muted and mostly neutral, with vibrancy conveyed in the brightness of the fruits, utensils and domestic appliances. The blurry paint technique brings an element of softness, but also one of privacy and security, reminiscent of film stills and old photographs. The glow of the sunlight streaming through the kitchen window asserts the joy of existing in Blackness and creating the Homeplace. Time appears to slow down, illustrating a dichotomy between the often hard reality of domestic life and the sense of softness and intimacy depicting in the scene.
Mohammed Sami’s Skin III (2020) is an ongoing series depicting personal memories metaphorically as paintings. The rug is a symbol associated with the home utilised by Sami to shed light on conflict and pain that can disrupt the creation and sustainability of a homeplace. War and violence are central to the painting’s palette, the flesh-coloured pinks and blood red crimsons of the rugs are rolled up and placed on top of each other. Their tightly bound forms allude to the ways in which the body can carry and manifest trauma.
Patty Chang’s film In Love (2001) is displayed over two screens, conveying the body as a site for making and maintaining relationships between family members. The act of feeding another person is intimate, starting at home from birth, but Chang pushes the boundaries and comfort within the frames. The lens is fixed on the faces in a tight close-up, causing the viewer to think about the elements of distortion created by the camera. Although the emotions and expressions are pensive, the performance itself is an act that reminds us just how much we perform in our own lives even within our own homes.
Homeplace embodies the framework of Black domesticity as a starting point, but extends to a multivocal lens over the diversity of Artists and perspectives in the exhibition. It enables us to reflect on how we as individuals navigate our thoughts and actions in our own homes, both physical and metaphorical, that we have spent so much time in the last 18 months.
V.O Curations, 56 Conduit Street, London W1S 2YZ. Open Tuesday-Saturday 11.30-18.00. Exhibition continues until 12 June 2021. www.vocurations.com