In this informal gallery talk, artist Aida Silvestri will discuss the arc of her visual activism with curator, friend and long-term collaborator Renée Mussai, senior curator at Autograph.
Surrounded by and in the context of Autograph’s current exhibition Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, featuring Silvestri’s commission Contagion: Colour on the Front Line (2020-21), the two will look at critical politics of engagement, community care and the development of a research-led conceptual practice where art and advocacy meet.
Silvestri’s commission – a compelling critique that emphasises inherent structural inequalities exposed by the pandemic – probes the devastating impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority communities. The artist highlights the disproportionate levels of exposure to the virus faced by frontline workers of colour by creating a thought-provoking riposte to populist rhetorics of inclusion – exposing striking parallels between our imperial past and contemporary present.
Drawing on past projects such as Even This Will Pass (2014) and Unsterile Clinic (2015), the conversation will further explore how Silvestri’s socially engaged artistic practice often foregrounds those whose voices are routinely silenced – raising awareness of human trafficking by highlighting the plight of refugees or advocating for survivors of gender-based violence. A key focus will be the importance of employing different visual methodologies and pictorial strategies – characterised by Silvestri’s distinctive approach to representation, often combining text, image and experimental techniques to manipulate the photographic surface in order to present viewers with alternative photographic languages to document collective and individual trauma, as well as to protect her participants’ identities.
Please note, photography will not be permitted at this event.
Aida Silvestri is a visual activist whose multi-faceted practice amplifies marginalised voices and migrant communities – raising awareness of human rights issues and representational politics in the arts and beyond.
Her new commission, Contagion: Colour on the Frontline, is currently on display at Autograph, as part of our exhibition Care | Contagion | Community - Self & Other. Silvestri’s other celebrated projects Even This Will Pass (2013 – 2014) and Unsterile Clinic (2015) respectively address people trafficking by highlighting the perilous journeys undertaken by economic and political refugees, and advocate for survivors of gender-based violence by drawing attention to the widespread practice of female genital mutilation. Both series were published, exhibited and part-commissioned by Autograph. Silvestri’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She is currently the remote artist-in-residence at Light Work, Syracuse; and in 2017 she received the Circulation(s) Festival audience award and was shortlisted for the Arendt European Month of Photography awards. You can see more of Silvestri's work on her website.
Renée Mussai is a London-based curator and scholar with a special interest in African and diasporic lens-based visual arts practices. She is Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial & Collection at Autograph, where she has worked for almost two decades, advocating for a diverse constituency of contemporary artists and co-commissioning a range of artistic programmes.
She lectures regularly on photography, visual culture, and curatorial activism and her art writing has been published in several monographs and anthologies including by TATE, Aperture, and NkA. Mussai is also Research Associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, University of Johannesburg; Associate Lecturer at University of the Arts London, and regular guest curator and former Fellow at the Hutchins Centre for African & African American Research at Harvard University.
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Ten artist commissions responding to the wider contexts of the Covid-19 crisis. Exhibition on now at Autograph's gallery in London.Book free tickets
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