Maxine Walker
UNTITLED

Spring 2020
BIRMINGHAM: MIDLANDS ARTS CENTRE

CURATED BY RENÉE MUSSAI AND BINDI VORA

About the exhibition

Read More After debuting at Autograph in London, the first exhibition of Maxine Walker's work in more than 22 years is touring to Birmingham.

Untitled reintroduces a pioneering artist whose practice focused on representations of black womanhood, a poignant exploration of identity by a young artist at the height of her career.  Active between 1985 - 1997, Waker used photography to interrogate the intricacies of skin, blackness and being.

This exhibition is part of our ongoing commitment to curate and preserve the legacy of important practitioners such as Walker, and to ensure that her significant contribution to the cultural history of photography is recognised.

Midlands Arts Centre

Cannon Hill Park

Birmingham

B12 9QH


IN DEVELOPMENT

This touring exhibition is in development at Autograph.

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In her seminal series of self portraits Untitled (1997), Walker draws our attention to the features of her face in closely-cropped black and white photographs. The sequence of ten portraits share a charged visual journey as she seemingly peels away layers of her surface skin, conjuring a narrative that is more sinister than playful, intimating that her blackness cannot - and must not - be stripped away. Magnifying the delicacy of her skin, we are invited to consider complex notions of beauty, masquerade, and vulnerability.

Deeply invested in creating dialogues that advocated black art practices in Britain, Walker was an influential artist and instrumental in co-founding platforms to give expression to black female photographers – including Monocrone Women’s Photography Collective, Women + Photography and Polareyes.

Material from Autograph’s archive will be exhibited, including the original contact sheets from Walker’s photo booth styled self portraits (1995). In these colour works, Walker transforms herself into a myriad of characters. Vintage artist prints from Black Beauty (1991) and The Bride (1989) will be on display, alongside the magazines Walker co-founded, edited and wrote for. Ephemera from her exhibitions across the UK chart the extent of her prolific career.

Maxine Walker: Untitled is based on Autograph’s 1997 publication of Walker’s work commissioned and edited by Mark Sealy, part of our now-rare series of monographs dedicated to black photographic practice.

Walker resides in Handsworth, Birmingham.

PREVIOUS ACCLAIM

Frieze
Hackney Citizen
Creative Boom
The Eye of Photography

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Deeply invested in dialogues that advocated black art practices in Britain, Maxine Walker (b.1962, Birmingham, England) was active within the photographic community between 1985 and 1997.

As a pioneering artist, she was instrumental in cofounding several creative platforms for black female photographers – such as Monocrone Women’s Photography Collective, Women + Photography and Polareyes – and participated on editorial boards, including at Autograph (then known as the Association of Black Photographers).

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During this time, Walker regularly reviewed exhibitions and wrote features highlighting the work of her peers: international artists like Joy Gregory, Adrian Piper and Ingrid Pollard.

She was artist-in-residence at Light Work, Syracuse, NY, in 1991. Walker’s main themes, in her own words, ‘involve the black woman and the family worked in a “pot-pourri” of studio, portraiture and documentary.’

Her work has been exhibited across a diverse range of national institutions and galleries globally, including South London Gallery; Jamaica Arts Centre, New York; Impressions Gallery, Bradford; and The Photographers’ Gallery, London. Her photography has featured within group exhibitions such as Self-Evident (1995, Ikon Gallery) and Shifting Terrains (1997, Zone Gallery, Newcastle), both organised in partnership with Autograph; other exhibitions include Through the Looking Glass: Photographic Art in Britain 1945-1986 (1989, Barbican, London); and Decent Exposure (1989, Central Library, Birmingham).

Her works are represented in private and public collections such as The Scottish Arts Council Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Autograph, London. She studied at West Surrey College of Art & Design (now University of Creative Arts).





SPECIAL THANKS

Maxine Walker and Autograph would like to thank: Derek Bishton, Vanley Burke, Claudette Holmes, Joy Gregory, Denise Walker, and Ella Yvonne Delores Walker Cole.

EXHIBITION SUPPORTED BY

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
Midland Arts Centre
Images, from top: 1) Maxine Walker, Untitled, 1997. Courtesy of the artist and Autograph, London. 2) Maxine Walker at Autograph, London. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell. 3 and 4) Maxine Walker, Untitled, 1995. Courtesy of the artist and Autograph, London.