Touching on the affective and communal pleasures Black womxn wring from cultural/political juggernauts such as Beyoncé, Michelle Obama and Oprah – and the limitations of representational over-identification, as pleasurable as it may be, with power –Mehri interrogates the joys and critical failures of these moments, and their relation to the lack of agency that characterises the lives of so many working-class Black womxn.
Drawing on figures such as Ella Baker and Claudia Jones, Mehri explores what it means for the powerless to superimpose their most unattainable ‘girl boss’ feminist fantasies and liberatory aspirations onto a few, inordinately powerful individuals, and how these instincts manifest in mainstream political discourse and personal relationships.
This reading is followed by a conversation between Mehri and ICA Assistant Curator Ifeanyi Awachie and an audience Q&A.
Momtaza Mehri is a poet, essayist and independent researcher. She is the co-winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and the Outspoken Page Poetry Prize. Her work has been widely anthologised and has appeared in Artforum, Granta, Poetry International, Real Life Mag and Vogue, and has been developed by BBC Radio 4. She is the former Young People’s Laureate for London and a columnist-in-residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space. Her chapbook sugah lump prayer was published in 2017. She is currently working on a commissioned art book to be published in 2020.