Please note there is nudity and sexual content in this screening which we would advise isn’t for under 18’s
In the three videos that make up Performing Whitness, Rosa-Johan Uddoh inhabits the role of newsreader, where she relays a series of apparently disconnected news stories, and pop singer, creating an inspired remake of Grace Jones’ ‘Private Life’. Part of her on-going project of investigating the representation of the Black female body in contemporary culture, Uddoh plays with the impartial tone of voice associated with newsreaders to impart poetic and, at times, blunt descriptions on the state of UK politics and the culture sector. At a time when the newsreader has become one of the primary interfaces between the inside and outside world, between truth and fact, Uddoh’s performances give voice to the opinions of a figure who is not usually allowed to have one.
Performing Whitness was commissioned by East London Cable and Tate Britain. First shown in Starr Cinema, Tate Britain, Dec 2019.
Written and performed by Rosa-Johan Uddoh. Co-produced by Jos Bitelli, Louis Brown and Rosa-Johan Uddoh. Filming by Anne Tetzlaff. Stills by Jos Bitelli. Sound by Toby Burroughs.
Backing singers: Shantelle Palmer and Dr Sujitha Selvarajah
This segment: Performing Whitness 2: Mews, 03.40. Courtesy of the artist and East London Cable (ELC)
In Honey Doesn’t Go Bad On It’s Own Gray Wielebinski edits together a collection of clips depicting intimate moments between baseball players on-and-off the field. However, such images of homosocial intimacy are soon scuppered with reverse acts of performed aggression aimed to cool down any potential for true connection. Accompanied by a haunting soundtrack by Nicky Otter, by focussing on such casual and ritualised gestures of male bonding that take place outside of the game but in full view of the audience, they perfectly subvert one of the quintessential images of American sporting culture and exposes its contradictions.
Courtesy of the artist
Sitting On A Man is the second part of Onyeka Igwe’s trilogy of films reflecting on the Aba Women’s War of 1929, which was led by women in south eastern Nigeria to form one of the first major protests against colonial rule. The protests involved ‘sitting on a man’, a tradition in Igbo speaking parts of Nigeria where women would collectively protest the behaviour of men by sitting on, or making war on them – wearing palm fronds, dancing and singing protest songs outside the man in question’s home. In Igwe’s three-channel video, archival footage of women dancing is accompanied by two contemporary dancers who reimagine the practice in connection with their own experiences, while two narrators read out archival descriptions of the event.
Courtesy of the artist and LUX, London
Courtesy of the artist and East London Cable (ELC)
Florence Peake and Eve Stainton’s collaborative work explores the expressive potentialities of queer bodies through intimacy, touch and collective reclaiming. Promoting an emotional landscape of bravery in response to restrictive attitudes to the sensual and visceral body, they endeavour to elevate the marginalised affection, sexuality, power and energies within non-normative relationships.
In Fantasy Series Ep01, originally performed via a live-stream produced by East London Cable, the artists improvise around a text where they continue to invent sexual fantasies ‘that never climax’. Through the use of the streamed video format the artists challenge conventional ways of viewing and feeling both live performance and desire.
Performance for ELC TV Dinners E01, Camera: Anne Tetzlaff, Live editing: Jos Bitelli, Technical Direction: Automaton Productions. Developed from a section of performance work Slug Horizons for ELC TV Dinners. Later presented in the Starr Cinema, Tate Modern.
Courtesy of the artists and East London Cable (ELC)
The final part of Performing Whitness sees Uddoh perform her own version of Grace Jones’ ‘Private Life’ while cascading down the concrete staircase of Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Building. Backing singers: Shantelle Palmer and Dr Sujitha Selvarajah.
Courtesy of the artist and East London Cable (ELC)
At various points in Ifekoya’s video they repeat the refrain, ‘a disco ball turns like a relic…may she rest in perfect peace,’ casting the nightclub as a space of queer potentiality, but also of mourning and loss. The video features materials from the ‘Rewind Fast Forward’ archive of feminist filmmaker, DJ and poet Sandi Hughes, which documents black and gay culture in Liverpool from 1975 to 2005. Ifekoya reanimates this material by projecting the film onto different installations, which she combines with her own archive of materials to form an ‘investigation into spaces of sociality past, present and still to come.‘
Courtesy of the artist and LUX, London
Rosa-Johan Uddoh (b.1993, Croydon, UK) Lives and works in London
Rosa-Johan Uddoh is an interdisciplinary artist working towards radical self-love, inspired by black feminist practice and writing. Through performance, installation and ceramics, she explores an infatuation with places, objects and celebrities in British popular culture, and the effects of these on self-formation. Rosa is currently the Stuart Hall Library Resident for 2020 and is also a lecturer in Performance at Central Saint Martins, London.
Gray Wielebinski (b.1991, USA) Lives and works in London
Gray Wielebinski is an American artist based in London whose work across sculpture, print, installation, drawing, performance and film tends towards the exposure and creation of mythologies of power and identity in terms of gender, race and sexuality. With a particular fascination in the cultures of sport and the latent polarities of competition and belonging; machismo and eroticism; national identity and hierarchy; performance and surveillance.
Onyeka Igwe (born London, UK) Lives and works in London
Onyeka Igwe is an artist and researcher working between cinema and installation. In her non-fiction video work Onyeka uses dance, voice, archives, sound design and text to create structural ‘figure-of-eights’, a format that exposes a multiplicity of narratives. The work comprises of untieable strands and threads, anchored by a rhythmic editing style, as well as close attention to the dissonance, reflection and amplification that occurs between image and sound; in the work as much in life, what is said and what we see are not always the same thing.
Florence Peake (b.1973, London, UK) Lives and works in London
Peake’s work explores notions of materiality and physicality; the body as site and vehicle of protest, the anthropocene and the commodification of art. By encouraging chaotic relationships between the body and material, she creates radical and outlandish performances, creating temporary alliances and micro-communities within the audience. Her work has been presented internationally, most recently at at Venice Biennale 2019 with Eve Stainton; CRAC Occitanie, Sète, France (2018), MDT Stockholm, Sweden (2018), London Contemporary Music Festival, UK (2018), Bosse & Baum, London, UK (2019); De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, UK (2018); Palais De Tokyo, Paris, France (2018); Hayward Gallery, London UK (2018).
Eve Stainton (b.1989, Manchester, UK) Lives and works in London
Eve Stainton is an artist inspired by the complexities of uncodeable, poetic queer encounters. This is expressed through practices of dancing and digital collage, and connecting with community. Eve views digital collage work as science fiction choreographies, creating grounds for more expansive understandings of the lesbian identity, non-gender/variance, and perceptions of the ‘real’. Eve is committed to an on-going process of active anti-racism and personal accountability. Since 2017 Eve has also been collaborating with artist Florence Peake, with their most recent work Apparition Apparition being commissioned for the Venice Biennale 2019. Recent presentations also include: Block Universe (UK), NottDance at Nottingham Contemporary (UK), Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis Theatre (UK), Modern Nature at La Becque (CH), Sara Zanin Gallery (IT), My Wild Flag Festival (SE), The Place (UK), Royal Academy of Art (UK).
Evan Ifekoya (1988, Iperu, Nigeria) Lives and works in London
Evan Ifekoya is an artist who through sound, text, video and performance places demands on existing systems and institutions of power, to recentre and prioritise the experience and voice of those previously marginalised. The practice considers art as a site where resources can be both redistributed and renegotiated, whilst challenging the implicit rules and hierarchies of public and social space. Through archival and sonic investigations, they speculate on blackness in abundance; the body of the ocean a watery embodied presence in the work. They established the collectively run and QTIBPOC (queer, trans*, intersex, black and people of colour) led Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) in 2018. In 2019, they won the Kleinwort Hambros Emerging Artists Prize and in 2017 the Arts Foundation award for Live Art sponsored by Yoma Sasberg Estate, and they have presented exhibitions, performances and screenings across Europe and internationally.