The Showroom

Fortnightly Highlight 7: Soul Searching

Dear friends,

How does one begin to dismantle structural processes of marginalisation, neglect and abuse? How does one act against systemic racism?

The past few months have seen an extraordinary group of individuals around the globe denouncing current and historical struggles against racial discrimination, calling for revolutionary reforms in technocracy and its representatives. People decided that the urge to collectively organise transcended self-preservation and lockdown – that raising together in a single voice was the way to advocate for real change.

In my mind, this signals the end of grand gestures; the certainty of the statement alone is over, no longer a ruling principle. A time for the crowds, the placards, the dialogues. We embrace enquiry with a certain enthusiasm, aware of the need for doing the groundwork, the necessary soul searching. Anti-racist action can only work when we commit collectively to its end, when each of us does our part – an enduring and long-term committed task.

There is a striking photograph by the recently deceased George Hallet, to whom we dedicate this Fortnightly Highlight, entitled ‘First Encounter’, in which he portrays a group of women laughing as they walk to embrace Nelson Mandela during his 1994 campaign. The joy and hope in their faces – in what was thought to be an impossible moment in transitioning post-apartheid South Africa – is a symbol for those of us who pursue change that the vital but unimaginable can be attained.

We would like to invite you to listen to Hallet’s words in George Hallett and Exiled Voices with curator Christine Eyene as part of her recording session for the Pan African Space Station (PASS); watch a pivotal manifestation of Mammmmmyyyyywaaaata, artist Alberta Whittle’s mythological avatar in her mission to discuss decolonisation and disrupt binaries; engage with Larry Achiampong’s heart-warming and harmonic exploration of Highlife in his project MEH MOGYA (A Sample of Me); and reflect upon Tremaine Emory’s installation A Proper Burial Finally, Thanks America which reimagines ideas of mourning, reparation and hope. Please also explore and contribute to our growing, open source space for anti-racist resources.



Elvira Dyangani Ose
Director, The Showroom


Image: George Hallett photographs in The Chimurenga Library, 2015. Exhibition co-curated by Chimurenga, The Otolith Collective and The Showroom. Photo: Daniel Brooke.

Courtesy of the George Hallett archive and Christine Eyene at the University of Central Lancashire, and Chimurenga.



Listening to George Hallett and Exiled Voices with Christine Eyene

For a special recording session with the Pan African Space Station (PASS), Christine Eyene shared her research into the work of photographer George Hallett and stories of artists from South Africa living in exile. Punctuating her commentary, the broadcast featured interviews with George Hallett and Louis Moholo as well as songs from the Blue Notes and the Brotherhood of Breath.

In 2015 The Showroom and The Otolith Collective collaborated on the first UK presentation of Cape Town-based outfit Chimurenga, who infiltrated our building in the form of The Chimurenga Library, inserting themselves into the existing frameworks, functions and structures of the space without displacing its everyday activities. The first week of the exhibition played host to the Pan African Space Station (PASS), Chimurenga's online music radio station and pop-up studio. The project was co-curated by Chimurenga, The Otolith Collective and The Showroom.

LISTEN: George Hallett and Exiled Voices with Christine Eyene. This session was recorded during the Pan African Space Station (PASS) for The Chimurenga Library at The Showroom in 2015.



Alberta Whittle: Mammmmmmmmywata Presents Life Solutions International

Recent developments in Alberta Whittle's research have led to the creation of a mythological avatar, Mammmmmyyyyywaaaata, whose mission is to facilitate new mechanisms for discussing decolonisation and memory.

Disrupting binaries of identity, Mammmmmyyyyywaaaata represents a hybrid identity, personifying a culture of mixedness, rooted in both miscegenation and love.

She has landed in Scotland, appearing in videos, encouraging us to get WOKE, advertising her powers to decolonize from within and demanding REPARATIONS NOW... 

WATCHMammmmmmmmywata Presents Life Solutions International (2016, 3 minutes 57 seconds) by Alberta Whittle. This video is specially available to view in The Library for a limited period, from 10-24 July, as part of this edition of Fortnightly Highlights.

[2 week screening has now finished]




Larry Achiampong: MEH MOGYA (A Sample of Me)

Exploring perceptions and concepts of identity with regard to his Ghanaian and British heritage, Larry Achiampong worked with Highlife – a music genre originating from Ghana in the 1900s and predating Jazz – to produce MEH MOGYA (A Sample Of Me). The resulting record was launched at The Showroom in October 2011.

This project forms part of a wider body of research in which Achiampong set out to investigate the audible potentials of personal and non-personal expression through sampling, experimental sound recording devices and processes.

LISTENLarry AchiampongMEH MOGYA (A Sample Of Me), 2011.



Tremaine Emory: 'Proper Burial Finally, Thanks America' – in conversation with Theaster Gates and Elvira Dyangani Ose

As part of the Collective Intimacy live programme last year at 180 The Strand, Tremaine Emory presented a unique installation, Proper Burial Finally, Thanks America. 'America has never had a wake or a funeral for all the slaves that built the country over time', Emory reflects upon this project. 'All the servants after slavery ended; everyone that was lynched or shot by a cop; all the atrocities that happened to Africans taken from Africa and brought to America...'

'The last wake I went to was my mother’s, and [beforehand] I'd thought it was the most horrible idea, [to be] in the presence of someone you love no longer being there. As painful as it was, when I think back, it was a beginning to moving past that pain. That’s how this idea started, thinking of my mum so much... It started with the wake.'

EXPLORE: listen to a recording of this conversation between Tremaine Emory, Theaster Gates and Elvira Dyangani Ose, and read an article about the installation that accompanied their conversation in The Face magazine.



Anti-Racist Resources

We are creating an online, open source space in which to compile a growing list of anti-racist resources, shared by our collaborators and extended community. You are invited to contribute by suggesting and sharing further resources. Please email your suggestions to [email protected]

RESEARCH: The first iteration of this growing bibliography is now available in The Library.


If you have been following the programme please fill out our digital audiences survey here

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