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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