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A Look Back at 2021

POSTED: 21 December 2021

Thank you to everyone who supported us


We started, and now end this year, thinking about care. Thank you to the artists, collaborators, partners and funders who have worked with Autograph in 2021, and to everyone who spent time with us both online and in person. Looking back, there is much to celebrate.

While our gallery remained closed, Autograph proudly launched Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other online with ten commissions by artists based in England and 22 texts responding to the wider contexts of the Covid-19 crisis. We reopened in June with Sharif Persaud: Have You Ever Had, celebrating Persaud’s work exploring identity through his experience of contemporary life and autism. It was a joy to work with our long-term collaborators, Project Art Works in Hastings, on the exhibition and to see them nominated for this year’s Turner Prize. From our local community in Hackney, we showed new works by 25 artists at Submit To Love Studios, and #HackneyIsHome shared experiences of home and migration in the Borough – with elements from the project seen more than 1.9 million times.

You may have also seen Autograph’s work across the UK and abroad: Maxine Walker: Untitled at Midlands Art Centre in Birmingham, Have You Ever Had on tour to De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, and Sunil Gupta: From Here to Eternity at The Photographers’ Gallery; plus Lina Iris Viktor: Dark Testament at Fotografiska Stockholm, Rotimi Fani-Kayode: Tranquility of Communion with Hales New York, and Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail The Dark Lioness at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Florida. We made numerous institutional loans of work from our collection including more than 40 works to Serpentine Galleries’ major James Barnor retrospective, Barbican Centre's touring exhibition Masculinities: Liberation Through Photography, Tate Britain’s Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s – Now, and to New Art Exchange, Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the Museum of Sex. In the press, our work was featured in The Guardian, Aperture, The British Journal of Photography, Hackney Citizen and many more places online and in print.

We also supported the commissioning of Sutapa Biswas’ new film Lumen, which has been exhibited to wide acclaim at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and Kettle’s Yard at the University of Cambridge; it will have its London premiere at Autograph in 2022. Other earlier commissions also on display this year included John Akomfrah’s The Unfinished Conversation at Tate Britain and Sunil Gupta’s The New Pre-Raphaelites at the Holburne Museum in Bath. We welcomed children with complex needs and their families back to Autograph, as part of our Family SEND programme; and launched a new project breaking down barriers in the creative industries. We commissioned the first book on the legacy of Black women in photography in the UK during the 1980s-90s with Mack Books and Joy Gregory as editor. On our website, we created online image galleries to share selected works from artists exploring issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice through photography, with thousands of pageviews (so far). Autograph blogged more than ever, covering topics including climate justice, the Windrush experience, and dismantling intellectual ableism in the arts.

We were delighted that our book by Sunil Gupta jointly won the 2021 Kraszna-Krausz Photography Book Award, and our monograph of Lina Iris Viktor was winner of the British Book Awards 2021 in the Exhibition Catalogue category. We also introduced Autograph Editions to help raise funds for our arts and learning programmes.

As 2021 closes, Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other is on display at our gallery while sadly Covid-19 again dominates headlines, and issues of care remain of the utmost importance. It’s a theme we will continue to explore in 2022.

Thank you for your support. All of us at Autograph wish you a restful holiday, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the new year.

2021 at Autograph - a snapshot

Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other at Autograph's gallery in Hackney, London

Dolores Crump and Andrea Thorpe, Friends, 2020. Created for our exhibition Common Threads with Submit to Love Studios

Artworks from #HackneyIsHome broadcast at Old Street Roundabout

Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, published by Autograph

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Selfies & Stories from Hackney's Windrush Generation display

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From Sunil Gupta: From Here to Eternity, co-winner of the 2021 Kraszna-Krausz Photography Book Award

Sharif Persaud: Have You Ever Had at Autograph

Limited Edition Print by R.A. Albert for Autograph Editions

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Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail The Dark Lioness at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens

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Sharif Persaud: Have You Ever Had at De La Warr Pavilion

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A Black Gaze livestream with Tina M. Campt

Creative play at one of our Family Workshops for Children with SEND

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Sunil Gupta: From Here to Eternity at The Photographers' Gallery

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Lina Iris Viktor: Some Are Born To Endless Night — Dark Matter monograph, winner of the British Book Awards 2021, in the Exhibition Catalogue category

From Wilfred Ukpong's online image gallery Afrofuturism, Mysticism and Climate Justice

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Banner image: Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other exhibition at Autograph, London. 23 Sep 2021 – 12 Feb 2022. Curated by Renée Mussai, Mark Sealy and Bindi Vora. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell.

Images on page: 1) Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other exhibition at Autograph, London. 23 Sep 2021 – 12 Feb 2022. Curated by Renée Mussai, Mark Sealy and Bindi Vora. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell. 2) Dolores Crump and Andrea Thorpe, Friends, 2020. Courtesy Submit to Love Studios / Headway East London. 3 + 11) Sharif Persaud: Have You Ever Had exhibition at Autograph, London. 23 June - 28 August 2021. Curated by Mark Sealy. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell. 4) Workshop image from the Family SEND Programme, with thanks to the attendees. 5) #HackneyIsHome artwork broadcast at Old Street roundabout. Courtesy Autograph / Mouth That Roars. 6) R.A. Albert, Miss Black & Beautiful Sybil McLean with fellow contestants, Hammersmith Palais, London. 1972/2021⁠. 7) From Here to Eternity: Sunil Gupta. A Retrospective exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery, London. Curated by Mark Sealy. Photographs: © Kate Elliott and The Photographers’ Gallery, 2020. 8) Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, published by Autograph. 9) Zanele Muholi, Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail The Dark Lioness exhibition at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Curated by Renée Mussai. ​⁠10) Lina Iris Viktor: Some Are Born To Endless Night — Dark Matter monograph, winner of the British Book Awards 2021, in the Exhibition Catalogue category. 12) Selfies & Stories from Hackney's Windrush Generation display on Autograph's building. 13) Jenn Nkiru and Tina M. Campt in conversation at Autograph's gallery in London, featuring artworks by Aida Silvestri, from the commission Contagion: Colour on the Front Line. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 14) Wilfred Ukpong, By and by, I Will Carry this Burden of Hope, till the Laments of my Newborn is Heard #2, 2017. © and courtesy of Wilfred Ukpong and Blazing Century Studios. 15) From Sunil Gupta: From Here to Eternity, co-winner of the 2021 Kraszna-Krausz Photography Book Award.