Layered and Interwoven: Exploring post-colonial identity through collage, textiles and montage video

David Waterworth

  • 16th July - 14th Sept 2024
  • Stephen Lawrence Gallery

Emmanuel Boateng

My work seeks to explore and adopt the stories and histories embedded in Ghanaian Kente cloth as a metaphor in making works that aim to challenge and disrupt existing historical Eurocentric influences and lineages in Western museums and art spaces. Kente represents my cultural and post-colonial identity, and it embodies my making process, in which I explore repetition, pattern, colour, and geometric shapes. In my practice, repetition is one of the central themes; my making process can be interpreted as using repetition in Kente to shift between the boundaries of painting and weaving as a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional form process or concept.

KV Duong

Family Portrait – Detail, 2024

KV Duong is an ethnically Chinese artist with a transnational background—born in Vietnam, raised in Canada, and now living as a queer person in Britain. He paints, sculpts, builds installations, and performs, all centered around form and materiality in response to his lived experiences.

Duong’s current focus is latex. He examines how it melds and coalesces with rice paper and various fabrics to create a substrate of otherness. He paints both sides, working through and over the diverse surface. These substrates sometimes resemble tactile heirlooms, akin to pieces of history passed down through generations, while at other times, they take on a performative, translucent skin-like function, serving as a vessel for his intimate DNA.

Latex references the historical connection to French colonial rubber plantations in Vietnam, while simultaneously embracing its sensuality and symbolic association with the queer experience. Laden with symbolism, this glue-like substance acts as a signifier and protagonist, fusing together materials of importance in his life to help shape and contextualize his identity and ancestral past.

Recent exhibitions include ‘Too Foreign For Home, Too Foreign For Here’ (Solo) (Migration Museum, 2022) and ‘No Place Like Home’ (Museum of The Home, 2023, co-curator and lead artist).

Funmi Lijadu

Having exhibited at the Shape Arts Open in 2021, Funmi Lijadu is a writer and collage artist, energised by boundless experimentation. With a surrealist sensibility and a contemplative approach, she is deeply invested in humanity, the histories that led to our present, and imagining better futures. 

She is interested in community engagement related to art, having running collage and zine workshops at Tate Modern, Barbican Centre and partnering with organisations such as Young Women Scotland.

Tova McKenzie-Bassant

This work is from McKenzie-Bassant’s series ‘Perspectives’, a visual exploration of the process to understand identity. Starting as small collages, the works are printed onto sheets of reflective aluminium which come to life when exposed to light. McKenzie-Bassant’s face appears behind masks in various guises, her use of white masks referencing Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and Du Bois’s concept of ‘double-consciousness’ – that colonised and subjugated people see themselves through the eyes of their oppressors.

Playing on symbols of power found in historical paintings, one work features a woman in a sumptuous red dress, an oversized hand holding a tiny globe. In another, she sports a moustache and bowler hat in the style of Charlie Chaplin, an ironic nod to the performance of identity. And in another, a tailor stands under a large moon, cloth and scissors in hand, ready to participate in their own process of destruction and creation: the blank white cloth a metaphor for the opportunity to shape and create new narratives, new ways of being and of being perceived. Overall, the work poses questions about the search for self-identity, a journey which, it appears, has no fixed destination.

Debbie Meniru, writer, and curator.

Anh Nguyen

Echoes of Identity

 Explore the intricate tapestry of historical and cultural influences shaping contemporary Vietnamese identity. This video delves into the rich mosaic of Vietnam’s past, highlighting the diverse cultural threads woven into the fabric of its present. From ancient traditions and colonial impacts to modern globalization, each element contributes to the complex and dynamic understanding of what it means to be Vietnamese today. “Echoes of Identity” invites you to reflect on the colonial impacts on Vietnam and its role in forming the nation’s evolving identity. 

Divya Sharma