Beginning with Ama Ata Aidoo’s poem As Always a Painful Declaration of Independence, from her 1992 collection An Angry Letter in January, that declares independence not only from a colonial ruler but also self-determined gendered and racial independence. Through dialogue and writing, performative declarations are created that reveal stories, dreams, forgotten histories to articulate and imagine strategies and possibilities in a collective ritual of declaration.
Asante says: “I am bringing together groups of womxn of colour to reflect on how the political affects the personal and how cultural implications of historic declarations, policies and legislations impact on their lives; to consider the possibilities for collective actions for the future and to rethink our understanding of monumental moments in world history such as declarations of independence.”
Asante’s projects are centred in performative actions, research and togetherness to think about contemporary geographies, race, gender and social justice; to articulate perspectives that critically reflect on the legacies of slavery and colonialism and to discuss how histories also inform the present.
*The term womxn is used explicitly and deliberately by the artist as an inclusive and progressive term that aims to foreground the identities of women of colour, trans women and those who may not identify with binary gender. It is a further example of Asante bringing to attention our established forms of communication and the implications these may have for both our present and future.
Barby Asante is a London based artist, curator, educator and occasional DJ. Her work is concerned with the politics of place, space memory and the histories and legacies of colonialism. Asante’s work is collaborative, performative and dialogic, often working with groups of people as contributors, collaborators or co researchers. Her artistic practice explores the archival, makes propositions, collects and maps stories and contributions of people of colour using storytelling, collective actions, and ritual, to excavate, unearth and interrogate given narratives, Asante’s work considers migration, safe spaces to gather in cities antagonistic to ones presence and how one maps the self as a contributor to narratives of society, culture and politics. Asante resists the idea that the stories of "Other-ness" are alternatives to dominant given narratives, but for her these stories and narratives are interruptions, utterances, presences that exist within, that are invisible, unheard, missing or ignored. By making these narratives and stories visible, asking questions and making proposals she is interested in what these possibilities offer as we examine our present and envision our futures.
Supported by Art Fund.