Untitled: The exhibition that finally gives a forward-thinking display of diasporic art

Too often, black artists are grouped together in shows to try and capture the zeitgeist but this collection of work by 10 black British artists feels genuinely fresh and resists categorisation, says Aindrea Emelife

Saturday 10 July 2021 06:30
<p>Larry Achiampong and David Blandy’s ‘Finding Fanon Part One’, courtesy of Copperfield Gallery & Seventeen Gallery, London</p>

Larry Achiampong and David Blandy’s ‘Finding Fanon Part One’, courtesy of Copperfield Gallery & Seventeen Gallery, London

An untitled artwork is an invitation to dream up your own story. Rather than dictate to or guide the viewer, an artwork without a name resists categorisation and encourages us to dig deep and think inwardly, without relying on contextual information. But its meaning also adapts over time. Good art should find ever-shifting significance in the past, present and future.

To be untitled is much like the diasporic experience – belonging to many histories, stories, titles and categorisations. Untitled: Art on the Conditions of Our Time, a new exhibition at Kettle’s Yard at the University of Cambridge, focuses on 10 British-African artists from the diaspora and how both artwork and maker question and interrogate some of the most important cultural and political issues of our turbulent times.

The mixed-medium exhibition, where paintings and drawings sit in close company with performance, sound and video works, is a reminder to think beyond generalisations about black British identity. By not giving itself a name, it moves past the “black art survey show” and by putting the art first instead of the identity, we are encouraged to explore the grooves and ridges that score a multilayered experience of what it means to be human, and how art, culture and society intersect.

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