Chapelle de la charité
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Throughout her career and across different media, Maud Sulter has questioned the lack of representation of black women in the histories of art and photography, and critically investigated the complex experiences of the African diaspora in European history and culture over the past six hundred years.
Syrcas aims to revive the forgotten history of the genocide of black Europeans during the Holocaust through the technique of photomontage. Sulter juxtaposes canonical imagery from classical European art history with African art objects, overlaid on vintage postcards of picturesque, unspecified Alpine landscapes.
Maud Sulter (1960–2008) was an award-winning artist and writer, curator and gallerist of Ghanain and Scottish heritage who lived and worked in Britain.
She exhibited widely and was selected by The British Council to represent Britain at Africus, the Johannesburg Biennale of 1995.
Her art has been acquired by numerous private and public collections, including the Scottish Parliament, the Arts Council Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Council Collection, the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and those collections who have loaned work for this show. She wrote several collections of poetry, and edited a pioneering collection of writings and images, Passion: Discourses on Blackwomen’s Creativity. This was published by the imprint she founded, Urban Fox Press, ‘a revolutionary new press for the more radical 90s’.
She was active in the Black feminist and lesbian movements, often inspired by African-American activists, artists and writers. She curated nearly 20 exhibitions, and set up a gallery, Rich Women of Zurich in London’s Clerkenwell.
Syrcas was first shown at Autograph ABP, Rivington Place, London 15 January - 2 April 2016.
This exhibition formed part of an ongoing series of engagements to preserve the late artist’s legacy. As an outcome of in-depth curatorial research led by Deborah Cherry, Professor of Art History at the University of the Arts London, and artist and curator Ajamu, this programme includes a strategic partnership between Autograph ABP and Street Level Photoworks partnership, in association with TrAIN - the University of the Arts London research centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation.
Syrcas is supported using public funding by Arts Council England, the support of The Maud Sulter Estate, and the loan of Duval et Dumas, 1993 from the private collection of Eileen Yeo. Special thanks to Ajamu, Deborah Cherry, Malcolm Dickson, Ingrid Pollard, and Eileen Yeo.
Banner images: 1) Syrcas gallery installation at Arles. 2) Maud Sulter, Noir et Blanc: Un [Black and White: One], 1993. From the series Syrcas. Courtesy of The Maud Sulter Estate. 3) Maud Sulter, Noir et Blanc: Deux [Black and White: Two], 1993. From the series Syrcas, 1993. Courtesy of The Maud Sulter Estate.