Featured image – Omar Victor Diop, Thiaroye 1944. From Liberty (2016). Courtesy © Omar Victor Diop / MAGNIN-A, Paris
London Gallery Autograph, presents a two part exhibition by Senegalese artist Omar Victor Diop, his first solo exhibition in the UK .
Liberty, a Universal Chronology of Black Protest, reinterprets key revolutionary moments in Africa and across the diaspora. It spans four decades and features historic events such as the 1965 Alabama marches on Washington, and the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, which triggered the Million Hoodie March in New York and later inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.
Strikingly detailed and potent in symbolism, the images primarily feature Diop as the protagonist portraying a range of figures, separated sometimes by time and often by geography, but unified by their defining struggle for human-rights.
For Diop, these images redefine black history, and consequently the history of humanity, as well as the concept of freedom.
Project Diaspora, the second part of the exhibition, celebrates four centuries of notable Africans in Europe, drawing parallels between their experiences and those of contemporary African footballers based in Europe.
Diop explains, “Football is an interesting global phenomenon that for me often reveals where society is in terms of race. When you look at the way that African football royalty is perceived in Europe, there is an interesting blend of glory, hero-worship and exclusion . Every so often, you get racist chants or banana skins thrown on the pitch and the whole illusion of integration is shattered in the most brutal way . It’s that kind of paradox I am investigating in the work “
The accompanying exhibition Purdah – The Sacred Cloth, by Arpita Shah, was produced as her residency on the Albert Drive project in Glasgow in 2013, and shows Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu women from the Pollokshields community, wearing traditional head coverings or veils.
The portraits highlight the deeply personal and significant meanings of the purdah – the ‘sacred cloth’, and seeks to address the common misconceptions surrounding the tradition of head covering and veiling.
“Purdah slowly unfolds the complex and intimate relationships that these women have with their sacred cloths, offering us a glimpse into its varied uses and interpretations across diverse cultural and spiritual worlds”.
– Arpita Shah
Omar Victor Diop: Liberty / Diaspora, and Arpita Shah: Purdah – The Sacred Cloth, are on show until 3 November 2018 at Autograph Gallery, Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA. For more information visit their website.