Throughout 2020, the London Borough of Brent was the Mayor of London's Borough of Culture. In this year-long celebration of the cultural life of Brent, public spaces, sites and community-led organisations across the borough were invited to work with the Borough of Cultures programme to participate in the inaugural Brent Biennial.
In this context, Metroland Cultures formed as a new charity to produce and present the Brent 2020 programme, to support culture and creativity in Brent into the future.
The Showroom was invited to partner with Brent 2020 and Metroland Cultures as part of a new residencies programme at Metroland Studios, Kilburn Square. A site for research, experimentation and production, these studio residencies carry forward the core aims of Metroland Cultures to make new places for artists and art in Brent; and to build a legacy for the borough and its surrounding spaces, institutions and organisations.
Interdisciplinary research platform Culture Art Society (CAS) is in residence at Metroland Studios between January–December 2021. This invitation builds upon conversations between CAS and The Showroom throughout 2020-21, reflecting on the production of support structures for new curatorial research, and ways of sustaining a wider framework for CAS's work for the public.
Dialogue began through CAS's plans for convening a reading group, Worlds in Relation, with The Showroom acting as a host space for its realisation. This reading group, whose title draws upon Edouard Glissant's Poetics of Relation (1990), aims towards establishing meeting points between art/artist, audience and literature through critical reflections on the relationships between contemporary art practice and African writing.
The studio residency at Metroland now creates a dedicated working space for CAS as a site for the development of these ideas and the generation of future public programming, certain strands of which will be hosted in partnership with The Showroom in 2021. Echoes and Trembles, for example, is an ongoing film screening programme that both draws upon and expands the open source resource of the Culture Art Society African Cinema & Diaspora Film List.
Awa Konaté, founder of CAS writes:
"Culture Art Society (CAS) is an interdisciplinary research platform that intersects critical studies and art theory to research the cultural economy of African archives. Since our founding in 2013, our multidisciplinary approach has drawn on combining literature, the moving image and visual arts – all practices which we deem archival – to form a critical curatorial praxis called memory work.
At the core of our platform is a commitment to working with and highlighting the wide-ranging intellectual and artistic labour of African thinkers. Moreover, initiating the means through which critical arts education as well as cultural activism is made accessible. Our wide-ranging work explores contemporary visual culture, Blackness, radical resistance, and developing new methodologies for working with archives to affect and re-inform engagements with contemporary relations.
We are deeply grateful and honoured for the opportunity to work with The Showroom, Metroland Cultures, Brent Council, and the borough’s constituencies. With the residency and the space afforded, we are excited to expand our digital archival research and community participatory framework to be materialised through exhibitions and collaborative public programmes ranging from reading groups to film screenings, and to the many more exchanges and spaces we hope to convene."
CAS joins nine other artists and collectives in residence at Metroland Studios, selected by Brent 2020 curatorial team via an open call: Taymah Anderson, Kes-Tchaas Eccleston, Adam Farah, Tom James, Linett Kamala, Smriti Mehra, Yasmin Nicholas, Abbas Zahedi, and Pesolife Art Collective.
Image above: Metroland Studios, Kilburn Square, December 2020. Photo: The Showroom
Culture Art Society: Digital Platform
CAS Reads: CAS regularly spotlights a thinker they are engaging with throughout their residency. Join in and contribute to the discussion at @cultureartsociety #CASreads