Sasha Huber explores how histories are imprinted into the landscape through naming and acts of remembrance - asking what actions it might take to repair inherited traumas. YOU NAME IT brings together over a decade of Huber’s work and activism.
We are aware that there is a tube strike planned for Thursday and it may be more difficult for you to reach us. If you are able to make it to the gallery, we'd love to welcome you.
The opening night will be the first viewing of newly-commissioned portraits by the artist: The Firsts – Tilo Frey, commemorating the Swiss-Cameroonian politician who campaigned for women’s rights and suffrage in Switzerland; and Khadija Saye: You Are Missed, honouring the late artist, activist and carer who died alongside her mother in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017; and new works in Huber's powerful series Tailoring Freedom.
The exhibition also includes the artist's work with the activist campaign Demounting Louis Agassiz, seeking to redress the legacy of the Swiss-born glaciologist and racist Louis Agassiz (1807–1873). His scientific contributions to the fields of glaciology, palaeontology and geology resulted in over 80 landmarks bearing his name on Earth, the Moon, and Mars. Less well known, however, was Agassiz’s legacy of ‘scientific’ racism, and how he used his position to actively promote the subjugation, exploitation, and segregation of Black people and other people of colour. He commissioned J.T. Zealy (1812-1893) to photograph enslaved people on the Edgehill plantation in South Carolina in March of 1850, using the technology of photography to further his eugenics campaign.
At the heart of this exhibition is Tailoring Freedom, including portraits of Renty and Delia Taylor, an enslaved Congolese father and daughter whose portraits were forcibly taken by Zealy and used by Agassiz. Huber reproduced Zealy’s daguerreotypes onto wood and used her signature staple gun method to ‘dress’ Renty in a suit inspired by Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), and Delia in a clothing inspired by Harriet Tubman (1849–1913), honouring the contributions of both abolitionists. These works are shown alongside Huber’s video, photography, performance and research unearthing Agissiz’s racist legacy, and efforts to remove his name from a mountain in the Swiss Alps and replace it with Renty’s – one of the goals of the Demounting Louis Agassiz campaign.
Huber’s desire to use art to heal colonial and historic traumas can be seen throughout the exhibition. The artist uses a staple gun to “symbolically stitch wounds together”, creating visually arresting portraits. This technique can be seen in The Firsts – Tilo Frey; and in Khadija Saye: You Are Missed.
Presented in the gallery window is Space Race, Huber’s 3d animation reflecting how racist histories have influenced cosmic colonisation. She asks us to consider “what’s in a name” and what do we evoke on earth – and beyond – with these names?
Huber’s artworks present a vision for the ways we can tenderly, and with care, refute the damage already inflicted by history. In challenging the terms by which we remember, the artist asks who and what we memorialise, and more importantly, how we do so.
We look forward to welcoming you to Autograph. For more details about visiting, have a look at our Visit Us page, it has information about getting to the gallery, Covid-19 safety and accessibility.
Please note: this exhibition addresses sensitive topics around colonialism
You Name It was initiated, organised, and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, in collaboration with Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam; Autograph, London, United Kingdom; and Turku Art Museum, Finland.
The Firsts – Tilo Frey (2021) and Khadija Saye: You Are Missed were commissioned by Autograph as part of our project Amplify – Stranger in the Village: Afro European Matters, supported by the Art Fund. Tailoring Freedom (2021 – ongoing) is co-commissioned with The Power Plant, Toronto and Autograph, London; alongside new works in this series currently in development for the exhibition.
Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list