6 Nov 2023
history is a living weapon in yr hand
13 January – 2 March 2024
Exhibition preview: Friday 12 January 6-8pm
Bonington Gallery presents history is a living weapon in yr hand, a solo exhibition of new and reconfigured work by London based artist Onyeka Igwe. The exhibition follows Igwe’s acclaimed solo exhibition A Repertoire of Protest (No Dance, No Palaver) at MoMA PS1 in New York, earlier this year, and ahead of her inclusion in the exhibition Nigeria Imaginary at the national pavilion of Nigeria at the Venice Biennale 2024.
The exhibition will be centred around a new two-screen adaptation of Igwe’s dual timeline experimental film A Radical Duet (2023). In 1947 London was a hub of radical anti-colonial activity, with international intellectuals, artists, and activists such as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Sylvia Wynter, C L R James, Kwame Nkrumah and George Padmore all in London at this time. Each of them was individually agitating for their respective countries’ national independence, but did they meet, and if so, what did they discuss?
The film features fictional characters inspired by these radical figures. It imagines what happens when two women of different generations, but both part of the post-war independence movement, come together in London to put their fervour and imagination into writing a revolutionary play. The film depicts this process and envisages what that play would look like if staged today.
The film will be accompanied by elements of the set design and props from the making of A Radical Duet, taking inspiration from the Jamaican writer and cultural theorist, Sylvia Wynter’s ideas on theatrical adaptation. Wynter builds on Brechtian principles of modern epic theatre and advises on how set design can support a theatre to ‘explode [social] fears by bringing them out into the light of day’.
For this exhibition, Igwe will be working with Collective Text, an organisation supporting accessibility in art and film through creative captioning, audio description and interpretation.
history is a living weapon in yr hand is produced in collaboration with Peer Gallery, London, where it will be presented in autumn 2024.
Onyeka Igwe is a moving image artist and researcher, born and based in London. Her work is aimed at the question: how do we live together? Not to provide a rigid answer as such, but to pull apart the nuances of mutuality, co-existence and multiplicity. Onyeka’s practice figures sensorial, spatial and counter-hegemonic ways of knowing as central to that task. For her, the body, archives and narratives both oral and textual act as a mode of enquiry that makes possible the exposition of overlooked histories. She has had solo/duo shows at MoMA PS1, New York (2023), High Line, New York (2022), Mercer Union, Toronto (2021), Jerwood Arts, London (2019) and Trinity Square Video, London (2018). Her films have screened in numerous group shows and film festivals worldwide. Currently, she is Practitioner in Residence at the University of the Arts London and she will participate in the group show ‘Nigeria Imaginary’ in the national pavilion of Nigeria at the upcoming 60th Venice Biennial in 2024. She was awarded the New Cinema Award at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival 2019, 2020 Arts Foundation Fellowship, 2021 Foundwork Artist Prize and has been nominated for the 2022 Jarman Award and Max Mara Artist Prize for Women. Onyeka is represented by Arcadia Missa Gallery.
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