UNTITLED: Art on the conditions of our time

Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, UK

Down at the Twilight Zone was a twelve-hour performance that looked at the rich histories of LGBTQ2S peoples’ experiences of Toronto’s nightlife. It was developed for Dream Time: We All Have Stories which was curated by Karen Alexander for Nuit Blanche Toronto 2018. This new film documents the performance, and is shown amongst posters that were pasted onto the walls of the venue.

Featuring performance, music, dance, videos, readings and interviews, and taking its cue from one of Toronto’s many nightclubs, Offeh’s project was a collaboration between artist, audience and ArQuives, Canada’s LGBTQ2+ archives, and was a celebration of Toronto’s Queer nightlife. Part archive of Queer histories, part performance, the project aimed to encompass and go beyond club culture to celebrate and explore Toronto’s broader Queer nightlife from the 1950s to the present day.

Artists and performers included: Ill NANA: DiversCity Dance Company, Keith McCrady, Akia Munga, Carol Thames, Nik Red, Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, Carolina Brown, Love Saves the Day: Jamie Sin & Kevin Ritchie, Dino & Terry, The Assoon Brothers, Sisters of JOY, Queers in Your Ears: Jeffrey Canton & Rico Rodrigues, Olivia Nuamah and Queerstory.

The exhibition title refers to the longstanding art historical convention of leaving artworks ‘untitled’ in order to encourage attention onto the works themselves, and eliminate reliance upon contextual information. Untitled asks viewers to examine the conditions of our time through the prism of Black British artists working today, without reducing the encounter solely to an exploration of Black British identity. By avoiding such over-contextualisation, the exhibition seeks to foreground these artists’ practices and show how they create platforms for audiences to explore the connections between art, culture and society.

Themes emerge that speak to shared contemporary concerns: sexuality and queerness; migration and conflict; technology and media; the disintegration of traditional image making and transmission; commemoration and memory. Patterns can also be seen in the artists’ choice of media. The exhibition traces an interest in performativity, social participation, immaterial conceptualism, multimedia work and ephemeral practices, alongside more traditional techniques such as drawing, painting and printmaking.

Photography: Stephen White & Co

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