Explore Kaleidoscope - a photography exhibition at Somerset House, exploring identity and immigration in modern Britain
Featuring stills and moving image, Kaleidoscope showcases the works of ten photographers born or based in Britain, many with family origins abroad including Hong Kong, India, Jamaica and Russia, and explores what it means and how it feels to live as an immigrant, or a descendant of immigrants, in Britain today.
Co-curated by writer Ekow Eshun and Creative Director Darrell Vydelingum, the exhibition forms a celebration of immigration in everyday life. Reflecting the multiplicity of voices that together form modern Britain, the exhibition takes individual and often intensely personal experiences to encourage a wider appreciation of the nation’s multiculturalism. The significance of immigrant communities forms a key focus, particularly how they influence the country’s identity, challenged now more than ever.
Seba Kurtis grew up in Argentina and lived in Spain as an illegal immigrant for over five years.
His work explores the dynamics behind irregular migration and the resulting impact on culture, society and the individual.
Heartbeat is inspired by the UK Border Police’s use of human heartbeat detection systems. The devices scan lorries entering UK ports and are sensitive enough to identify a human heartbeat within 30 seconds.
Kurtis’s subjects in this series are people being held at detention centres, their barely visible images a reminder of their tentative status in Britain and the sophisticated technology arrayed against illicit border crossings.
In The New Londoners, Chris Steele Perkins seeks to photograph a family living in London from every country in the world.
The project is intended as a homage to diversity and a reminder of the significant role that immigration has played in the evolving identity of the city and the country as a whole.
For Steele-Perkins it is: "a record of a new London, a new Britain and a celebration of the fabulous cultural richness of London."
Dalston Anatomy is described by the artist as a ‘visual celebration’ of Ridley Road Market in East London.
A long-time resident of the area, Vitturi regards the market as a unique place where ‘different cultures merge together in a celebration of life, diversity and unstoppable energy’.
Aware too that the local community and its economy are rapidly changing around him, Vitturi has striven to capture the area by picturing people and objects he encountered at the market, creating composite images from portraits and discarded goods that reflect the impermanent nature of a neighbourhood in transformation.
Mahtab Hussain’s work explores the relationship between identity, heritage and displacement.
His themes develop through long-term research, articulating a visual language that challenges prevailing concepts of multiculturalism.
In The Quiet Town of Tipton he explores the aftermath of a nail bomb attack that sought to maim and kill Friday worshipers at a mosque in Tipton, West Midlands.
His photographs offer a portrait of an Asian community that first arrived from Pakistan in the 1950s and 60s in search of work, eventually settling, raising families and becoming in Hussain’s words, "truly part of British society".
Teresa Eng’s work deals with transition and change. She commonly works on projects across an extended period of time, revisiting a place over several months to a few years.
Elephant explores the people and
places of Elephant and Castle, South London, a neighbourhood characterised by immigration and ethnic diversity.
Eng is an outsider to the area, having moved to London after growing up in Canada. Despite this she rejects the distanced objectivity of documentary photography, offering instead a more empathic connection with her subjects.
The Queen, The Chairman and I, is a multilayered narrative that traces the path of Kurt Tong’s family from China, to Hong Kong, to the UK.
Combining new photographs, found images and family album photos, Tong seeks to reconnect with the Hong Kong of the past, humanizing the political and social upheavals that brought his family there and eventually to Britain, and revealing the impact of the British Empire and Chinese Communism on his life.
Having grown up between three different cultures, Tong views the project as a means to address a powerful, personal question:
‘Who am I?’
In the summer of 2014, Rhianne Clarke lost her father, Michael Robert Clarke, to cancer.
A year after his death, her mother found a collection of 450 undeveloped negatives taken by him during the 1970s and 80s.
Although he was untrained in photography, the pictures nevertheless show a strong aesthetic sensibility and speak poignantly of his life in Britain as a member of an immigrant family from the Caribbean.
For Clarke, Many Rivers to Cross is a collaborative project with her father that points towards the process of discovery and consolation attainable through engaging with a family archive.
Hetain Patel works in visual art and performance, often using humour and the language of popular culture to explore questions of culture and identity.
Featuring Patel’s homemade replica Spider-Man costume, The Jump ties together the fantasy imagery of Hollywood superhero movies with the domestic setting of the artist’s British Indian family home in the UK.
Featuring 17 of his family members, the film is shot in his grandmother’s home.
This is the house that Patel and all of his immigrant relatives have lived in at various points since 1967.
For the last three decades, Liz Johnson Artur has been working on a photographic representation of people of African descent from around the world.
Real...Times features scenes of black life in London, filmed by Johnson Artur during the summer of 2018: from a boisterous DJ session with the all-women Born N Bread collective, to a crowd gathered to both celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Windrush generation and protest at the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy for immigrants.
The work of visual artist and filmmaker Billy Dosanjh investigates race and the working class South Asian diasporas around Smethwick in the West Midlands, the de-industrialised factory town where he grew up.
His essay film Year Zero: Black Country uses found footage, recorded anecdotes, fictional diaries and offcuts from newsreel archive to evoke the 60s in the Black Country, when thousands of economic migrants arrived from the former colonies in search of a promised land.
In 1965, Dosanjh uses home Super 8 footage shot both in the Punjab, India and in the Black Country to chronicle the journey of one family to England.