Summer 2019 at Somerset House

Somerset House

Director of Programmes Ceri Hand introduces the Summer 2019 programme at Somerset House. Exhibitions Get Up, Stand Up Now and Kaleidoscope form the backbone of Somerset House's site wide summer programme, celebrating the incredible range of British based creative pioneers shaping culture.

The Jump (Film still), Hetain Patel, 2015/2015, From the collection of: Somerset House

The programme reflects our diverse, intergenerational, interdisciplinary community of artists and creative organisations based here at Somerset House, many of whom feature in the exhibitions and events programme.

In the context of the current social and political climate we aimed to reveal the crucial role and difference that artists make to all our lives and to reflect the multiplicity of voices that have made London and Britain great whilst being international in reach and impact.

These landmark exhibitions, so beautifully curated by artist Zak Ové and curators Ekow Eshun and Darrell Vydelingum respectively, connect hundreds of distinguished artists from the worlds of art, film, photography, music, fashion & literature, together under one roof for the first time. The artists in both exhibitions draw on history to help us reframe the present, reconsider our points of view and reveal the familial networks, communities and narrative threads that weave us together.

Kaleidoscope features stills and moving image works by ten photographers born or based in Britain, many with family origins abroad including Hong Kong, India, Jamaica and Russia, and explore what it means and how it feels to live as an immigrant, or a descendent of immigrants, in Britain today.

Informed by his own history as an illegal immigrant, Seba Kurtis presents Heartbeat, a series of portraits of migrants held at UK detention centres, inspired by the British police’s use of heartbeat detectors to locate people hiding amongst cargo. Chris Steele-Perkins’ large-scale The New Londoners studies families from each of the 200 UN-recognised countries of the world now living in London; the stories of their origins, and the reasons why they chose to settle in the city.

In Dalston Anatomy, Lorenzo Vitturi captures the energy in the convergence of different cultures at Ridley Road Market in East London. For The Quiet Town of Tipton, Mahtab Hussain collaborates with the local South Asian community to capture life in the Sandwell borough following a racist attack on the Kanzul Iman mosque in 2013, offering a voice to those othered by xenophobic attitudes.

Teresa Eng explores the theme of belonging by documenting the people and places in Elephant & Castle, her home borough in London, offering a first-hand perspective of how second and third generation families view their local community. Kurt Tong’s photo series The Queen, The Chairman and I is a personal documentation of his family’s journey from Hong Kong to the UK over the last 100 years. Rhianne Clarke’s Many Rivers to Cross forms a retrospective of her father’s photography of his Caribbean community in 1970s-80s London, discovered only following his death in 2014.

Hetain Patel brings a playful touch to immigration discourse in his film work, The Jump by gathering 17 British Indian family members in his grandmother’s home in Bolton, where he and his relatives have lived since 1967. Photographer Liz Johnson Artur focuses on the capital in Real…Times, weaves narratives from London’s African diaspora, from the Black Lives Matter activist rallies to sequences from Black female collective, Born N Bread.

Billy Dosanjh’s Year Zero: Black Country transports viewers to 1960s West Midlands. His video work compiles archive newsreel footage with personal testimonies from economic migrants in his hometown of Smethwick, forming a platform for a community underrepresented in mainstream culture.

Kaleidoscope, Somerset House, Photography: Tim Bowditch, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Somerset House
‘Kaleidoscope articulates the different complexities of a multicultural country with humour, charm and poignance’ – i-D
The New Londoners, Chris Steele Perkins, From the collection of: Somerset House

We invited visitors to take part in a new photographic artwork celebrating multicultural British identity. Backgrounds is a new photographic project, created by co-curator of Kaleidoscope Darrell Vydelingum, documenting the diverse range of cultural backgrounds in Britain today.

Backgrounds was inspired by Indian photographer Masterji's portraits of newly arrived South Asian immigrants and their families in Coventry. The project aimed to create a portrait of 21st century Britain today. We worked with five young Magunum-trained photographers who photographed visitors to Somerset House over the course of one weekend in June, and uploaded the portraits live to a dedicated Instagram account.

Shrine to Wisdom - as part of Get Up, Stand Up Now, Victor Ekpuk, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Somerset House

Get Up, Stand Up Now features over 100 artists in a journey from the post-war era to the present day, through the artistic lens of both father and son: Horace and Zak Ové.

Horace Ové, as a Pan-African internationalist, captured a period of dramatic change amongst Black communities of Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, using film and photography to document the rise of the Black Power movement in the UK, whilst reflecting on parallels with the birth of the Civil Rights Movement in America.

The diasporic creative exchange that existed between Black British and American artists during this time is reflected in the work of the contemporary artists that Zak has chosen to feature in Get Up, Stand Up Now.

Subsequent generations of Black artists, now operating globally, move seamlessly between making work for galleries, festivals, publishing online and in print, collaborating with musicians, high-end brands and fashion houses. They are questioning who is represented and how.

This exhibition and catalogue aim to inspire by introducing visitors and readers to some of these incredible creative individuals and collectives that have challenged the status quo in this country and abroad and who, in Horace Ové’s words, ‘dream to change the world’.

Historic artworks and new commissions are presented alongside items from personal archives, many of which have never been exhibited before in public. Through these original photographs, newspaper clippings, poems, letters, films, objects and audio clips, the exhibition connects the creative, personal and political, reflecting on how Black artists have forged communities and responded to the pressing issues of our times.

Get Up, Stand Up Now, Zoe Bedeaux, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Somerset House
‘The abundance of great work makes this unmissable’ – Evening Standard
Umbilical Progenitor - as part of Get Up, Stand Up Now, Zak Ové, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Somerset House

The exhibition is presented in five chapters that act as guiding themes: Motherland, Dream to Change the World, Masquerade, Imaginary Landscapes, Mothership.

Contemporary artists in the exhibition include:
A Guy Called Gerald, Abe Odedina, Adjaye Associates, Ajamu, Alexis Peskine, Althea McNish, Anthea Hamilton, Anthony Joseph, Armet Francis, Aubrey Williams, Barbara Walker, Barby Asante, Barkley L. Hendricks, Benji Reid, Betye Saar, Black Audio Film Collective - John Akomfrah, Bradford Young, Caleb Femi, Campbell Addy, Carrie Mae Weems, Charlie Phillips, Che Lovelace, Chris Leacock (Jillionaire/Major Lazer), Chris Ofili, Cooly G, Cosmo Whyte, David A. Bailey, David Hammons, Deborah Roberts, Dennis Bovell, Denzil Forrester, Derrick Adams, Don Letts, Ebony G. Patterson, Elizabeth Colomba, Emheyo Bahabba ‘Embah’, Errol Lloyd, Faisal Abdu'Allah, Franklyn Rodgers, Gaika, Gary Simmons, Glenn Ligon, Gordon Parks, Grace Nichols, Grace Wales Bonner, Hank Willis Thomas, Hassan Hajjaj, Helen Cammock, Hew Locke, Horace Ové, Hurvin Anderson, Ishmahil Blagrove, Jay Bernard, Jazzie B, Jenn Nkiru, Julie Mehretu, Kehinde Wiley, Keith Piper, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Larry Achiampong, Lavar Munroe, Lezley Saar, Libita Clayton, Lina Iris Viktor, Linton Kwesi Johnson, LR Vandy, Lubaina Himid, Marlene Smith, Marlon James, Martine Rose, Maud Sulter, Merle Van den Bosch, Mickalene Thomas, Mowalola Ogunlesi, Nari Ward, Neil Kenlock, Nick Cave, Niyi Olagunju, Normski, Oliver Hardt, Patrick Betaudier, Paul Anthony Smith, Paul Maheke, Pauline Black, Peter Doig, Phoebe Boswell, Rashid Johnson, Rhea Storr, Richard Mark Rawlins, Ronald Moody, Ronan McKenzie, Sanford Biggers, Satch Hoyt, Selina Nwulu, Shabaka Hutchings, Sonia Boyce, Stephen Burks, Steve McQueen, Thick/er Black Lines, Thomas J. Price, Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers), Vanley Burke, Victor Ekpuk, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Young Fathers, Zadie Smith, Zak Ové, Zanele Muholi, Zoe Bedeaux.

The exhibition features new work from Somerset House Studios artists Jenn Nkiru, GAIKA, Mowalola Ogunlesi, Rhea Storr & special weekly drumming performances by Libita Clayton.

The exuberant and colourful 3D exhibition design by Yinka Illori and 2D graphic design by Here Design, with a specially commissioned soundtrack by Jillionaire. We have created a special film and podcast series that expands these themes and spotlights the artists and their work and contribution.

Shrine to Wisdom - as part of Get Up, Stand Up Now, Victor Ekpuk, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Somerset House
'A legacy that every Black Briton can be proud of' – The Wire 
Film4 Summer Screen, 2018/2018, From the collection of: Somerset House

And finally, our Film 4 Summer Screen will premiere a new Film work each evening by American artist and cinematographer Bradford Young and musicians such as Shabaka Hutchings feature in the exhibition and Summer Series.

Find out what's on at Somerset House: somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on

Sons of Kemet, Summer Series with American Express, 2019/2019, From the collection of: Somerset House
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