28 June ' 20 July 2014
Gallery Open: Fri-Sun 12-6pm
Private View: Fri 27 June, 6-9pm
Late Opening: Thursday 10 July 6-9pm
As part of Regent See Pt. II
at 7pm: Adornment As Activator
Alex Michon in conversation with Delaine Le Bas & Tara Darby.
MOT Projects and Space in Between are also open until 9pm
'Look at me! With a grand, proud ironic grace, she exhibited herself before the eyes of the audience as if she were a marvellous present too good to be played with. Look, not touch. She was twice as large as life and as succinctly finite as any object that is intended to be seen, not handled. Look! Hands' Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
Delaine Le Bas is well versed in the interweaving of her iconic persona and Romany heritage within the body of her work. But Le Bas is no compliant poster girl for perceived notions of romanticised gypsyfication. Her bricolage installations, films, performances and writings have always contained an inherent political stance that transcends cultural boundaries. She writes that in her practice she is 'dealing with issues of contentious space; navigating the existing institutional structures ' suffocating and non-negotiable ' that as a community we are continually exiled from. This takes the form both of physical and psychological spaces that must be negotiated.'
Since her first solo exhibition, Room at Transition in June 2005, Delaine has exhibited widely throughout the world, including the First Roma Pavillion for the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. More recently her To Gypsyland touring project, co-curated by Barby Asante, has taken in various cities within the UK and returns to 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning in June 2014. Since 2006, Le Bas has also shown extensively in Europe. Over the last year, in Poland, she created Houses as Silver as Tents, a major installation at the Zacheta National
Gallery, Warsaw and MWW, Wroclaw. For Galeria Miejska, Gdansk, she worked with the artist Iwona Zajac on Other Sisters.
It was at Room that Delaine was first introduced to the photographer Tara Darby. Over the years the two artists have developed a strong, creative, working partnership, which is reprised here for this seminal collaborative exhibition. Portrait is something of a homecoming for Le Bas, a return to the place where it all began, and it is here that Le Bas and Darby, in a
series of performative images which encompass elements of Kabuki, Lindsey Kemp and punk, defiantly play out a masquerading, androgynous costuming; a psychological exploration of the physical exploitation of the artist as object. 'I used to be called Kate Bushand witch at school,' writes Delaine. 'Lately I have been thinking about Polysterene, X-Ray Spex, listening to John Peel, going to jumble sales, being a member of CND, and Dikiomengro Tan at Chapter where I first did the Kabuki make-up after being taught by a friend from West Sussex College of Design who was part of the Kemp Company. But going to Poland recently was huge in my re-discovering of why I had gone to art school in the first place - my access to this world that I wanted to be part of.'
Rather than asking the audience 'what kind of gypsy queen would you like me to be today?' in this collaboration with Darby, Le Bas re-positions and reclaims her right to be seen first and foremost as an artist.
Delaine Le Bas and Tara Darby Portrait of the Artist is shown in tandem with To Gypsyland at I98 Contemporary Arts & Learning, London, Friday 20 June - Saturday 16 August 2014