AfroScots A programme of film, video and sound work

February 25, 2017, 1:00 pm

Université du Québec à Montréal
Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, room J-R930
405 Ste-Catherine East, Montréal
In English
Free admission

Curators: Mother Tongue (Glasgow)
Artists: Rayanne Bushell, Irineu Destourelles, Kapwani Kiwanga, Maud Sulter, Tako Taal and Alberta Whittle

The Galerie de l’UQAM has invited the Glasgow-based curatorial duo Mother Tongue to organize a programme of film, video and sound work. Titled AfroScots, the programme charts the work of Black artists who have – in the present and historically – lived, worked, exhibited and studied in Scotland. In AfroScots, the works coexist and respond to each other, sketching a reflection on identity of an undeniable actuality.

The screening is organized in the context of Montréal’s Black History Month, and in dialogue with the exhibition Graham Fagen. The Slave’s Lament, presented at the Galerie de l’UQAM from February 24 to April 8, 2017.


AfroScots is a relatively new term describing people of African and Caribbean descent in Scotland which has gained currency in the last decade. It is not a category assigned officially by the government, but rather a grassroots, informal identification. It is beginning to enter the public domain but it remains problematic in some senses.

The programme takes this term as a means by which to draw a line around a group of practitioners working across three generations, who have – in the present and historically – lived, worked and studied in Scotland. Encompassing film, video and sound, the work of six artists is brought into the same space and in dialogue with one another for the first time. In doing so, the program aims to open up new understandings and readings of these works, and the potential shared ground between them.

The process of curating this programme has attempted to recoup works, whilst also being a context to which some of the participating artists have chosen to respond to with new work. In common, the selected works express the negotiation of new and in-flux identities, with shared themes of interpersonal relationships (family, friendship, sexual) and language. Moreover, the programme seeks to open-up discussions around the diversity of the arts in Scotland, and ask questions around presence and visibility.

The artists

Born in Glasgow of Scots and Ghanaian descent, Maud Sulter was a writer, poet, playwright, cultural historian and artist, working across installation, photography and video. She attained a Masters degree in Photographic Theory, and came to prominence in 1986 through her programming of Check It at the Drill Hall, London, and her inclusion in the exhibition The Thin Black Line, curated by Lubaina Himid at the ICA. Her work was subsequently exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1987; the Johannesburg Biennial, 1996; and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 2003. She later directed and founded the gallery Rich Women of Zurich, London, which promoted cultural diversity and mid-career artists. Sulter’s work is held in the collections of the V&A London, Arts Council Collection, the British Council, the Scottish Arts Council and the Scottish Parliament Collection, amongst others.

Initially studying Anthropology and Comparative Religions at McGill University, later undertaking the “La Seine” programme at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, Kapwani Kiwanga has been artist-in-residence at L’École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Le Fresnoy – National Contemporary Art Studio, Tourcoing; at MU Foundation, Eindhoven; and Le Manège, Dakar.  Her film and video works have been nominated for two BAFTAs and have received awards at international film festivals. She has exhibited internationally including at Centre Pompidou, Paris; Foundation Ricard, Paris; Centre of Contemporary Art, Glasgow; Paris Photo; and Art Catalyst, London.

Alberta Whittle is a Barbadian artist, researcher and educator. Her practice involves choreographing interactive installations, interventions and performances as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces. Foregrounding her research is an analysis of creative strategies employed to question the authority of postcolonial power, its implications and its legacy. Whittle has exhibited in various solo and group shows, including at the Johannesburg Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, FRAMER FRAMED (Amsterdam), David Dale Gallery (Scotland), BOZAR (Belgium), and the National Art Gallery (Bahamas). In 2016, The Polity of Φ, a research project initiated in collaboration with artist/writer Deniz Uster was presented at Intermedia Gallery during Glasgow International Arts Festival.

Working across different media, and often exploring the interstices between painting, text and moving image, Irineu Destourelles relates his experiences of place and their social practices with particular interest on the reproduction of colonial discourse in contemporary contexts. He was born in Cape-Verde in West Africa, a former Portuguese colony, and moved to Lisbon aged four-years-old. He trained at Willem de Kooning Akademy Rotterdam, and Central St. Martins College of Art & Design, and his videoworks have been screened, amongst others, at Transmediale Berlin, ICA London, and Hangar Bicoca Milan. Irineu Destourelles lives and works in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Born in Wales to Gambian and Welsh parents, Tako Taal graduated in 2015 from Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen with a BA in Contemporary Art Practice. Before studying she worked for an independent film production company in Berlin. Recent projects include, Tracing the [public] Garden Wall (Glasgow), Only the Improvisation remains Constant (Aberdeen) and RSA New Contemporaries (Edinburgh). Tako lives and works in Glasgow.

Rayanne Bushell is a Glasgow-based artist in constant conflict with their locale. Informed by a desire to interrogate history and what it has left us with, Rayanne’s projects explore (and collaborate to create) the physical and virtual spaces and practices created by people of colour in the pursuit of safety and survival. Rayanne produces photographic, text and sound based works, alongside workshops, parties and a library. They are also a Committee Member at Transmission Gallery, an artist-run space in Glasgow.

The curators

Mother Tongue is a research-led, independent curatorial practice formed in 2009 by Tiffany Boyle and Jessica Carden. Their practice in exhibition-making intersects with research interests – including, but not limited to – post-colonialism, language, translation, heritage, identities, indigenousness, migration, and movement. Since 2009, they have produced exhibitions, film programs, discursive events, essays, poster series and radio broadcasts, in partnership with galleries, museums, and festivals.

They have undertaken residencies in Scotland, Sweden, Finland and Barbados, and previously participated on the CuratorLab programme at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm. Mother Tongue is one of a team of partners behind the newly-launched Tilting Axis Fellowship: a one-year opportunity for a Caribbean-based practitioner to undertake across the region and in Scotland, funded by the British Council Scotland, designed in collaboration with the CCA Glasgow, David Dale Gallery and Hospitalfield. They are current recipients of a Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Research Support grant towards a future AfroScotsexhibition project built upon archival and collection research, seeking to bring into a single narrative for the first time the work of Black artists in Scotland, both historically and in the present.

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