We unveil the emerging artists fronting the much-anticipated London summer show
Later this month (22 – 31 August), Copeland Gallery in Peckham will be home to the second BBZBLKBK Alternative Graduate Show, a precious chance for us to experience art unfettered by the dominant white mediocrity we are too often exposed to, as ten artists of black ancestry who identify as queer womxn, transgender or non-binary fill the space. Over the last few months these artists have been lovingly hand-picked by selection panel; Ain Bailey, Travis Alabanza, Phoebe Collings-James, Jamila Johnson-Small, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and, as BBZ prepares to open the doors to the much-anticipated show, we find out more about each artist.
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley works predominantly in animation and sound, combining the two to communicate their experience of survival as a black trans person. They taught themselves how to edit, render and programme all their own 3D films and hope to be able to make a fully cast 3D film, voiced, and designed in its entirety by black trans people.
Having recently graduated from the Slade School of Art, Brathwaite-Shirle has presented their work at Tate, Barbican, Auto Italia, Brighton Festival, and more, having recently had a joint show at Mimosa House with Travis Alabanza, and completing the sound design for shows at the Wellcome Collection and The Yard.
Brathwaite-Shirle says: “I am so excited to be in a show that champions queer Black artists. I feel privileged to be able to able to show work alongside these artists.”
Enorê Rodrigues a London-based multi-media artist from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, working in printmaking, programming, and painting. Their artistic practice focuses on establishing relationships between digital processes and ideas about visualisation, imagery construction, and virtual images. They manipulate images and references from the internet or personal archives to create works that navigate both digital and physical spaces.
They’re looking forward to finishing their first year of grad school, proud to be the first in their family to do so. New to London, Rodrigues is happy to take part in a show that celebrates people like them by building a community that transcends geographical locations.
Rodrigues says: “!Respect trans people!”
When Kengy was at boarding school, she used to tear out pages from Vogue to decorate the walls of her dorm room. Fast forward to 2019, and she’s just had her work featured in Vogue Italia.
Kengy is a West Indian-American multidisciplinary artist based in London. Kengy’s photographic practice is immensely experimental, fusing varied mediums: filmmaking, jewellery/metal, textile, and screen-printing. Her work primarily focuses on the urban cultural aesthetics of blackness to empower and heal others through her art.
Kengy says: “I feel blessed to be part of a platform with common values which allows queer black artists to express their voices freely through their art.”
Favour J is inspired by the traditional arts of the Bini People of Edo State, Nigeria. She uses their beliefs, cultural knowledge, and traditional values in her work as a way of articulating in the contemporary world her own values and ideas of resilience, strength, and power. Favour J hopes to collaborate more at home and internationally, soaking herself in cultural knowledge and inspiring the young ones who are yet to understand their strengths.
Favour J says: “I’m proud of me, it really hasn’t been easy; work life, home, studying and trying to keep sane in order to create. The number of times I broke or just didn’t have the strength to even raise up my curtains! Big up! The fighter inside.”
After graduating from her BA in Art Practice from Goldsmiths in 2010, Davinia-Ann Robinson found it difficult to engage with her work. She felt disconnected with the materiality of her practice and exhausted by the experiences and emotionality of navigating colonial and patriarchal spaces. She is proud to have returned to her art practice, which articulates and unpicks these very experiences.
Robinson’s art practice explores the implications of emotion for black female bodies in colonial spaces, while also considering the palatability of being a black woman in Britain navigating through culturally biased terrains. The materiality of Robinson’s work is used to incite and compel the viewer to touch or recoil when engaging with her work, replicating exchanges between her body and bodies of others that she has experienced navigating everyday spaces.
Robinson says: “I hope to continue to make work which centres on narratives predominantly excluded within social, cultural, and political discourse in western culture, and to provide agency to those who engage with my practice and see elements of their own narratives centred.”
Linda Nwachukwu is a Spanish artist of Congolese and Nigerian descent. Her work merges between the intimate, the political, and the satirical. Round shapes, bright colours, and cartoon-like perspectives are some of the main elements in all of her pieces, as she depicts trauma and personal experiences in a fun and colourful way.
Nwachukwu says: “I’ve been trying to focus on the present because I tend to overthink about the future but I can say that I wish for emotional healing, clarity and, no offence but, new flatmates.”
Ebun Sodipo is an interdisciplinary artist and writer working across sound, text, film, and performance. They participated in a group show at Embassy Gallery in Edinburgh earlier this year, examining futurity, utopias, world-building, and the intersection between place and identity formation.
They also give talks, run events, spaces, and teach. They’re very grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to show work alongside members of their community and are excited to see what people make of the works.
Sodipi says: “I hope that we, as black, trans practitioners, continue to create and maintain sustainable resources for ourselves and for future generations. By that, I mean businesses, communities, wealth, jobs, and the like.
Rene Matić’s work explores the immeasurable dimensions of blackness through the lens of her own personal experiences as a queer, black womxn living in the diaspora. In doing so, Matić aims to expose, combat, and question the power relations that pervade the art world and society more widely.
Matić’s current work predominantly explores the skinhead movement; its founding as a multicultural marriage between West Indian and white working-class culture, and its subsequent co-option by far-right white supremacists. She uses this as a metaphor to examine her own experience of living in the black British diaspora and also to excavate white jealousy, the continued legacy of colonialism and the fear of a black planet – all things which find convergence within and upon her mixed-race identity.
Rene says: “It’s a wonderful feeling to have my work looked at and enjoyed by people with similar experiences to my own. Who understand and are accepting of all the sticky bits. I admire every person on the selection panel and I have so much pride knowing they see me and they want other people to see me too. I feel all full up. Everyone come see the show!”
Miranda Forrester is a painter from London currently dividing time between London and Brighton. She paints queer women of colour, creating a space that challenges the twin mechanisms queer artists face, of misogyny and homophobia. Forrester’s work concentrates on the demand for self-definition and representation, in addition to confronting the issues surrounding the portrayal of queer women and sexuality.
Forrester says: “This will be an amazing experience to come together with other creative queer people of colour who have been developing their practice or studying over the last few years, to celebrate and prioritise our work and identities. I’m proud of always having made the work I wanted to and not compromising.”
Kumbirai Makumbe is part of Digi-Gal, a global community of womxn and non-binary people who specialise in 3D design and animation helping to shift the power dynamics in tech. He’s also an interdisciplinary artist and designer creating work around the perception of blackness, exclusionary practices, and caring. After attending the Alternative Graduate Show last year, it became one of Makumbe’s dreams to be featured in the show himself. He is ‘still shook’ that he got selected.
Makumbe hopes to continue allowing his practice to unravel and develop organically, honouring his many interests alongside digital art, and making space for collaboration with others in the community.
Makumbe says: “I’m a Cancer sun, Pisces moon and Capricorn ascending. And yes, all that water does have me feeling some type of way.”