Get Up Stand Up Now & Kaleidoscope
The Exhibitions Mapping the Artforms of Black Britain From Post-World War II to the Present Day and Celebrating the Multiplicity of the Black British Diaspora.
Written by Sihara Jayasena
This summer Somerset House, London is presenting two extraordinary exhibition shows which are both extremely different but impactful in their own way. The exhibition Get Up Stand Up Now discusses the impact of the Black creative community, expanding from post-war to modern-day. Whilst Kaleidoscope, the second exhibition, demonstrates a modern-day interpretation of immigration in the UK, presented through an array of photos and film.
The Get Up Stand Up Now exhibition has been curated by the well-known visual artist Zak Ove and showcases work from over 100 different artists presenting their ideas through photography, film, music and modern technology. Each artist who has been invited being viewed a groundbreaker of their generation and within their genre. The artists come from a variety of different backgrounds, cultures, ethnic groups and practices but what we find in them is a gesture made towards the viewpoint of Black British art which speaks of the black British experience.
When asked about what Zak Ove hoped people would take away from this exhibition he said: “I hope they will take away a sense of pride, a sense of the connectivity that really has enabled black British arts to flourish over the years. I think what’s really interesting is that this is really a timeline in a sense, and it’s interesting how contemporary artists are really working or kind of building their practice on the shoulder of these pioneers in a way. So, what I was interested in was how these men and women opened doors, how they stood up against all odds right, for black pride in that moment.”
The exhibitions event programme will also include showcases of music, performances, DJs and drag which will create a place to discuss the sometimes difficult issues that has surrounded the Black community for so long.
11/06/2019. London, UK. ‘Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers’ exhibition at Somerset House, London. This major new exhibition celebrates the past 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond. Jenn Nkiru, ‘Still from Neneh Cherry, Kong’, 2018. Copyright of the artist.
The hopes for this exhibition is that it will eventually chip away at the ‘collective amnesia’ which is often fuelled by mainstream media.
Gaika, a musician and performance artist, who will be featured in Somerset House portrays the Black creative community in a very distinctive way through his own interpretation with sound. He uses modern-day technology to present his ideas on how music can be used to critique current culture capitalist values.
Gaika explains: “The design came from an idea that I had about control. Our society is all about capitalism. To me this doesn’t really make sense, it [society] is obviously broken. I think a lot of rap in our culture is deep satire, so I wanted to make something that was lots of people making music. I didn’t imagine it being on the radio. I wanted to have this music anchored to a physical object.’
THE HIDDEN GEM
The second exhibition you will find on at Somerset House is, Kaleidoscope. This exhibition brings together more than ten photographers who portray their own personal experiences of immigration in the UK. Ekow Eshun, co-curator of the exhibition explains: “The photographers wanted to show through their photos that this is what Britain feels like now, in terms of all the individual stories and all those collective stories. So, all the work is very recent with most of it being produced in 2018, because that’s the point if we want to talk about immigration it’s not an abstract thing, it’s not a thing of other, it’s actually us and we wanted to find a way to talk about that in sensitivity.
11/06/2019. London, UK. ‘Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers’ exhibition at Somerset House, London. This major new exhibition celebrates the past 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond..Yellow Chalk #1&2 – Dalston Anatomy, 2013 © Lorenzo Vitturi
“For me, the immigrant story doesn’t finish with getting off the boat, it’s our inherited identity.”
Darrell Vydelingum, creative producer, consultant and also the fellow curator of Kaleidoscope said: “When people think of immigration, they have this concept of people getting of boats, black and white footage and people still have that image and an idea. When the news talks about immigration they always talk about the 1970s when people came over, so we wanted to put a different picture into it.”
Kaleidoscope runs 12 June – 8 September
Get Up, Stand Up Now runs 12 June – 15 September