PROJECT

Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other

March 2020 - ongoing

What

A commissioning programme reflecting on the Covid-19 crisis, supporting the creation and dissemination of new artworks and texts

Why

In March 2020, we decided it was essential to support creative practitioners, to help them to keep making work and consider these unprecedented times

Who

Led by Autograph's curatorial team, we commissioned ten UK-based artists, plus ten writers to contextualise the new artworks made

ABOUT THE project

Initiated during the first months of lockdown in 2020, Autograph commissioned ten UK-based creative practitioners - Mohini Chandra, Poulomi Desai, Joy Gregory, Othello De’Souza-Hartley, Sonal Kantaria, Ope Lori, Dexter McLean, Karl Ohiri, Silvia Rosi and Aida Silvestri - to create new work in response to the wider contexts of the Covid-19 crisis.

The interdisciplinary artworks they produced represent thoughtful reflections on changing conditions of existence: generous invitations for us to think about what it means to be human and to care for one another. Using primarily photography and video, the artists reflect both carefully and critically – and often very personally – on the impact of the pandemic, exploring ideas of loss, family, home, belonging and diaspora while considering different lived experiences, and the inevitability of change.

Autograph's curatorial team Mark Sealy, Renée Mussai and Bindi Vora spent a year working closely with the artists to support the creation of new work. We also invited ten writers – each paired with one of the artists – to produce a short essay reflecting on these artworks, and conducted a series of interviews with each artist about their practice. The project has since been shared online, published in a new book, and presented as a group exhibition at Autograph's gallery in London and at Impressions Gallery in Bradford.

The artist commissions reflect Autograph’s long-standing mission advocating for photography and film to address visual politics of rights, race and representation.

Introducing the Project

A short introduction to the Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other project and why it was important during the crisis

Read more

One (Pandemic) Year On...

Our senior curator Renée Mussai contextualises the artist and writing commissions in a curatorial essay

Read more

what we have accomplished so far



artists supported

Ten artists were commissioned to create new work during this critical time

80+ new artworks created

Photography, film and more

writers supported

Ten writers were commissioned to produce texts as part of the project

new book

Autograph has published an accompanying anthology, featuring all artist commissions and texts

Exhibition

A group exhibition of this work was first held at Autograph's gallery in London and is now on tour to Impressions Gallery in Bradford

23 texts published

Contextualising the work and practices of a diverse cohort of UK-based artists 

shared online

In March 2021, we launched the artist commissions and texts online to mark one year since the first national lockdown

works accessioned

Artworks from the commissions are now part of Autograph's collection of photography

online artist talks

We collaborated with Photo Australia on PHOTO LIVE, featuring five artists from the project

the commissions




Mohini Chandra
Belated (2020)

Mohini Chandra's work deals with articulations of identity and globalised spaces, and the role of the photographic in relation to memory and migration. Her research-led practice is fuelled by a sustained interest in photographic histories and the processes of visual culture within colonial, anthropological and ethnographic discourses. In her commissioned film Belated, Chandra offers a visual mediation on ideas of place and belonging during the global pandemic. View the commission.

Texts

I let the pitcher drift away
Curator Dr Sushma Jansari reflects on the poetics of Belated and how the pandemic may shape our understanding of the past, present and future

When Everything Fell Silent: In Conversation with Mohini Chandra
The artist speaks with Autograph's curatorial project manager Bindi Vora about the commission




Poulomi Desai
Our cultures are the portals -
the gateways between one world and the next
(2020)

Poulomi Desai is a multimedia artist whose activist community-based practice often utilises performance, language, photography, and sound to create art advocacy projects. For Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, Poulomi Desai created a series of images inoculated with bacteria, considering how we might attempt to control the uncontrollable. View the commission.


Texts

Life, Death and Everything in Between
Curator Tarini Malik responds to Desai's new commission

Our Cultures are the Portals: In Conversation with Poulomi Desai
Autograph's director Mark Sealy speaks with the artist about her practice, and the metaphor of the petri dish in the context of control, nurture and care




Joy Gregory
Madam Photo (2020)

Joy Gregory is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice explores the wider cultural politics of identity, race and gender. Her practice employs photographic media – both analogue and digital – from still to moving image and camera-less photography alongside installation, objects and sound. Gregory created Madam Photo for the commission, a diary-like series of photographic and textual fragments drawn from her daily walks and encounters during lockdown. View the commission.

Texts

Breathing Space
Curator and writer Anne McNeill responds to Madam Photo and the importance of creative acts of self-care and seeking respite in a global pandemic

Isolation, Distance, Encounters, Invention: In Conversation with Joy Gregory
Autograph's director Mark Sealy speaks with the artist






Othello De'Souza-Hartley
 Blind, but I can See (2020)

Othello De'Souza-Hartley is a visual artist whose artistic vocabulary encompasses photography, film, performance, sound, drawing and painting. Working across multiple interdisciplinary platforms, his practice is concerned with ideas around the human body as a site of embodiment, often engaging with self-portraiture, masculinity and vulnerability as visually performed ideas. For Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, De’Souza-Hartley reflected on the notion of stillness, loss and how to navigate grief. View the commission.

Texts

In That Green
Poet Raymond Antrobus reflects on De'Souza-Hartley's commission with a personal reflection on how grief may shape our sense of time, and being

In Search of Stillness: In Conversation with Othello De'Souza-Hartley
The artist speaks with Autograph’s senior curator Renée Mussai about the artist’s creative practice and the process of making Blind, but I can See




Sonal Kantaria
Ghar (2020)

Sonal Kantaria is a British Indian visual artist whose practice explores themes of movement, settlement, representation, and cultural identity. Her interdisciplinary research-led practice is concerned with history, trauma, and memory, investigating different forms of resistance through photography, video and text. Kantaria's commission Ghar considers what 'home' might mean during a global pandemic and how it relates to her cultural heritage. View the commission.

Texts

City, Country, City
Lola Young weaves together ideas and memories of 'home' in her personal response to Kantaria’s Ghar

On Care, Memory and Place: In Conversation with Sonal Kantaria
Kantaria speaks with Autograph's director Mark Sealy




Ope Lori
The Lines Between Us / I, Becoming You (2020)

Ope Lori works across visual arts, activism, and academia, using lens-based media to investigate politics of difference, often in relation to cultural and sexual identity. Her research-led practice, which includes writing as well as image-making, invites viewers to question power dynamics in both private and public spheres, routinely challenging societal stereotypes, and myths. Lori created two performative film works for the commission that explore a shared lineage of philosophy between father and daughter inspired by Paolo Freire’s seminal book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. View the commission.

Texts

Transformations: In My Father’s House
Autograph's senior curator Renée Mussai reflects on Lori’s transgressive double performance in her new films

Notions of Becoming: In Conversation with Ope Lori
Artist and filmmaker Campbell X speaks with Ope Lori about the politics of sexual and cultural difference in Lori's artistic practice




Dexter McLean
Untitled (2020)

Dexter McLean is a photographer whose socially engaged practice is concerned with the representation of black and disabled communities. Drawing from his own lived experiences, he creates photographic portraits that emphasise the challenges and societal myths disabled people face in contemporary society. For this commission, McLean reflected on the every-day impact of Covid-19 within his community of close family and friends. View the commission.

Texts

On Photographer and Activist Dexter McLean
Artist and educator Dave Lewis reflects on McLean's commission, considering politics of representation, disability and the black body

Photography and Parity: In Conversation with Dexter McLean
Autograph's director Mark Sealy speaks with the artist




Karl Ohiri
Equation for Humanity (2020)

Karl Ohiri is a British Nigerian artist whose multifaceted practice focuses on the human condition and explores different social functions of art. Notions of self/other are central to his work, which routinely incorporate photography, video, text and everyday. For Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, Ohiri developed a conceptual artwork that proposes a sociological equation for humanity. View the commission.

Texts

The Oneness of Things
Curator Loren Hansi Gordon's reflects on Ohiri's new commission

What it Means to Be Human: In Conversation with Karl Ohiri
The artist speaks with Autograph’s curatorial project manager Bindi Vora about the process of producing his new commission, and the importance of care and community




Silvia Rosi
Neither Could Exist Alone (2020)

Silvia Rosi works with photography, text and moving image to explore ideas of memory, migration and diaspora. Inspired by West African studio photography, Rosi’s practice explores personal history through self-portraiture, drawing on her Togolese heritage and family traditions, especially matrilineality, and women’s labour. In her commission, Rosi reflected on the different structures we build to protect ourselves and how the absence of touch can affect our social behaviour. View the commission.

Texts

Performing a Lockdown: The Self and the Camera
Writer and educator Krasimira Butseva reflects on how actions performed in isolation become rituals for survival in Rosi's new commission

On Structural Isolation: In Conversation with Silvia Rosi
Autograph's curatorial project manager Bindi Vora speaks with the artist




Aida Silvestri
Contagion: Colour on the Front Line (2020)

Aida Silvestri creates mixed-media artworks that challenge the status quo of stigma, prejudice and social injustice in relation to issues of race, class, identity and health – often combining text, image and experimental techniques to manipulate the photographic surface. For Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, Silvestri created a multifaceted body of work that explores the devastating impact of Covid-19 on frontline workers of colour, linking the present with the past. View the commission.

Texts

The Rhetorical Fallacy of Inclusion
Scholar Anthony Downey reflects on structural inequalities, and the imperial nature of the pandemic's rhetoric of inclusion as addressed in Silvestri's commission

If We Care Enough [To Look]: In Conversation with Aida Silvestri
Autograph's senior curator Renée Mussai speaks with the artist

EXHIBITION

The ten artists’ work was brought together for the first time in a group exhibition at Autograph’s gallery in Hackney, which was on display 23 September 2021 - 12 February 2022. The exhibition, which is curated by Renée Mussai, Mark Sealy and Bindi Vora, is now on tour to Impressions Gallery in Bradford where you can catch it from 12 April - 9 July 2022.







Book

Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other

We worked with local design studio Fraser Muggeridge to publish a new anthology of the project, featuring all ten artist commissions and twenty-two texts. Available from Autograph's gallery and our online shop.

Shop

commissioned artists

Mohini Chandra

Silvia Rosi

Othello De'Souza-Hartley

Dexter McLean

Joy Gregory

Poulomi Desai

Aida Silvestri

Ope Lori

Karl Ohiri

Sonal Kantaria

writers

Raymond Antrobus

Lola Young

Anthony Downey

Renée Mussai

Sushma Jansari

Krasimira Butseva

Loren Hansi Gordon

Campbell X

Mark Sealy

Dave Lewis

Tarini Malik

Anne McNeill

Bindi Vora

team

The Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other project is led by


Mark Sealy

Director of Autograph

Renée Mussai

Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial & Collections at Autograph

Bindi Vora

Curatorial Project Manager at Autograph

latest updates

On Tour

The exhibition is now on tour - catch it at Impressions Gallery, in Bradford until 9 July 2022.

Find out more

Art Illustrating Human Rights Issues

Autograph's commission by Aida Silvestri has been selected to illustrate the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights annual report⁠, highlighting how art and human rights can illuminate one another⁠.

Read the report

Take a VR Tour of the Exhibition

Bringing Autograph's gallery straight to you: virtually visit the Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other exhibition

See more

discover more

Watch back the PHOTO LIVE online artist talks

Highlighting the importance of centring black, Indigenous, feminist, queer and other marginalised voices and storytelling in photography. With talks by project artists Ope Lori, Silvia Rosi, Sonal Kantaria, Mohini Chandra and Othello De'Souza-hartley.

Watch on our blog

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Can you spare a few moments? Autograph is carrying out a survey to better understand who our digital audiences are. The survey should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Anything you tell us will be kept confidential, is anonymous and will only be used for research purposes.

The information you provide will be held by Autograph and The Audience Agency, who are running the survey on our behalf. In compliance with GDPR, your data will be stored securely and will only be used for the purposes it was given.

You can take the survey here. Thank you!

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Banner image: Poulomi Desai, from the commission Our cultures are the portals - the gateways between one world and the next, 2020. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other.

Other page images: 1) Mohini Chandra, film still [detail] from the commission Belated, 2020 Film. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other. 2) Poulomi Desai, [detail] from the commission Our cultures are the portals - the gateways between one world and the next, 2020. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other. 3) Joy Gregory, [detail] from the commission Madam Photo, 2020. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 4) Othello De'Souza-Hartley, from Absence (triptych) [detail]. From the commission Blind, but I can See, 2020. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other. 5) Sonal Kantaria, Ghar I [detail]. Film; 1 minute 16 seconds. From the commission Ghar, 2020, © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 6) Ope Lori, film still [detail] from the commission The Lines Between Us, 2020. Film, © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other. 7) Dexter McLean, Kamahl [detail]. From the commission Untitled, 2020. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion| Community — Self & Other. 8) Karl Ohiri, = [detail]. From the commission Equation for Humanity, 2020. Digital Black & White Fiber-Based Gloss Prints, each 12 x 16 in. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other. 9) Silvia Rosi, [detail], from the commission Neither Could Exist Alone, 2020. Archival giclée prints, each 8 x 8 inches. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 10) Aida Silvestri, A Great Leveller [detail]. From the commission Contagion: Colour on the Front Line, 2020. © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 17) Cover of Autograph's exhibition anthology Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 18) Courtesy Mohini Chandra. 19) Dexter McLean. Photograph by William Gillingham-Sutton. 20) Courtesy Ope Lori. 21) Silvia Rosi, Self Portrait as my Mother in School Uniform [detail]. From the series Encounter, 2019-20. Commissioned by Jerwood / Photoworks Award © and courtesy the artist. 22)  Joy Gregory, 2021. Photograph by Sunil Gupta. 23) Karl Ohiri. Photograph by Riikka Kassinen. 24)  Othello De'Souza-Hartley. Photograph by Nico Froechlich. 25) Courtesy Poulomi Desai. 26) Courtesy Sonal Kantaria. 27) Courtesy Aida Silvestri. 28) Courtesy Raymond Antrobus. 29) Courtesy Dr Sushma Jansari. 30) Dave Lewis. Photograph by Franklyn Rodgers. 31) Courtesy Baroness Lola Young. 32) Courtesy Krasimira Butseva. 33) Courtesy Tarini Malik. 34) Courtesy of Anthony Downey. 35)  Courtesy Loren Hansi Gordon. 36) Courtesy Anne McNeill. 37) Renée Mussai, with Zaki by Zanele Muholi, 2021. Courtesy Renée Mussai. 38) Courtesy Campbell X. 39) Portrait of Bindi Vora: Photograph by Laura Hensser for iheartwomen.co.uk. 40) Mark Sealy.  Photograph courtesy of Steve  Pyke. 41) Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other exhibition at Autograph, London [detail]. 23 Sep 2021 – 12 Feb 2022. Curated by Renée Mussai, Mark Sealy and Bindi Vora. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell.

Exhibition images: 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.