The show references artist Keith Piper’s curatorial strategy from the 1992 group exhibition Trophies of Empire. With the use of Taoist practices of self-cultivation, meditation, rituals, and harmony with nature, the display aims to cleanse and detoxify as a way of collective healing. The site of the Bluecoat and its history as a charity school for children in poverty built with profits from the Transatlantic slave trade becomes a starting point for a closer look at the ways in which the space can be decolonialised.
A highlight of the show is An Ancient Quiver by Emii Alrai. The piece creates a site of an archaeological dig or excavation in the gallery space. Cardboard tiles covered in plaster and sand line the walls and the display includes metal and stone ‘plinths’ with pseudo-ancient objects nestled amongst the dust and clay. Little carved vases and greening clay shapes peek out of the uneven stone surfaces and hang from the walls, creation of which was informed by oral histories and mythology. The artist aims to flip the traditional visual language of a museum on its head by mimicking a classic display, the seriousness of which dissipates upon closer inspection and the discovery of the DIY-style materials used to create it.
Other works include installations, videos and sound pieces alongside garments. Upstairs, for example, viewers will find a film by Soojin Chang (in collaboration with Georgie Rei-n Lo, Jade O’Belle, and Aditya Surya Taruna a.k.a. Kasimyn): JADE BAMBOO BABY SPINE – the creatively filmed piece explores ideas of rituals, scared sites, sacrifice and surrender.
Other artists involved in the show are Sulaïman Majali, Thulani Rachia, Roo Dhissou, Kiara Mohamed and Emii Alrai. This exhibition is curated by guest curator Katherine Ka Yi Liu 廖加怡.