The Black Fantastic: Ekow Eshun in Conversation

with Ekow Eshun and Dr Caroline Edwards 

Friday 24th February 2023, 6-8pm, Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0PD

Please book your free ticket here.

How are contemporary Black artists reimagining fantastic genres and motifs to address racism and social injustice? How do elements of folklore, science fiction, spiritual traditions, ceremonial pageantry and Afrofuturism inform multimedia Black art today? What can we learn from their powerful visions of futurity? 

We are thrilled to be joined by Ekow Eshun for a special session on the Black Fantastic. Eshun's recent exhibition "In the Black Fantastic," which ran from June to September 2022 at the Hayward Gallery, brought together contemporary artists from the African diaspora, whose work draws on science fiction, myth and Afrofuturism. Featuring artists such as Nick Cave, Sedrick Chisom, Ellen Gallagher, Wangechi Mutu, Chris Ofili, Lina Iris Viktor and Kara Walker, "In the Black Fantastic" was the UK’s first exhibition dedicated to the work of Black artists working in the realm of the fantastical – including mythology, folklore, spiritual traditions, science fiction and Afrofuturism – to explore racial injustices and identity. 

Eshun will reflect on his experiences curating this acclaimed exhibition and discuss how Black artists are exploring the fantastic across a variety of media. 

Ekow Eshun is a Ghanaian-British writer, editor and curator. He has been the editor of numerous magazines, including TankArena and Mined. He was Artistic and Executive Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2005-10), during which time visitors rose by 38%. He holds an honorary doctorate from London Metropolitan University and is Chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, overseeing London's most significant public art programme. He writes frequently for the GuardianIndependent on SundayThe Face and the Observer. He is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4 arts shows Saturday Review and Front Row. Eshun's Orwell Prize-nominated memoir, Black Gold of the Sun: Searching for Home in England and Africa (2005) explores issues of race and identity. In 2016, he curated a group exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery, London exploring the identity of the black dandy, Made You Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity. In 2017, he edited the publication Africa Modern: Creating the Contemporary Art of a Continent, which marked the opening of Cape Town’s Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. He is also Chairman of Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, and Creative Director of the arts space Calvert 22 Foundation, for which he has instigated an award-winning online magazine, The Calvert Journal.

Please book your free ticket here.

Venue information available here.


Featured image: photograph of Wangechi Mutu's "The End of Eating Everything" (short film, 2013) taken by Dr Caroline Edwards at the "In the Black Fantastic" exhibition, Haywood Gallery London, September 2022.


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