Mothering Blackness II:
Self-portraiture – Defiance and Vulnerability

Tuesday 24 October, 6.30 - 8.30PM

Autograph ABP

London, UK

Event, £3

To mark the closing of Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama exhibition at Autograph ABP, this panel will bring together scholars, artists, curators and activists to explore politics of self-portraiture in relation to themes of vulnerability and defiance.

Invited speakers will discuss their personal readings of select portraits in Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama series and link them to wider socio-political and (art)historical trajectories.

How might we read Zanele Muholi’s resistance in relation to blackness and decolonial visual activist practices? What is at stake in such courageous stagings of the self, where the [black] body is offered up for confrontation, scrutiny, adoration, and public consumption? How does the notion of a 'visually disobedient' self in post-colonial 21st century discourse 'weaponise' the experience of subjectivity? Considering the way cultural and sexual identities converse with the performance of race, place and embodied geopolitics, how do we ‘mother’ ourselves, our art and one another?

Brief individual presentations will be followed by a roundtable discussion, and audience Q&A.

Guest speakers include Tamar Garb, Karen Alexander, Ajamu and Ama Josephine Budge.

Moderated by Renée Mussai, Senior Curator and Head of Archive & Research at Autograph ABP. 

All panelists contributed texts to Autograph ABP’s latest artist newspaper Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, published to coincide with the exhibition. Available here>

Presented by Autograph ABP in partnership with UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) and the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art (CSCA).

The event series’ title: Mothering Blackness is borrowed from Maya Angelou's poem The Mothering Blackness. The first in the series The Mothering Blackness: An evening of Art, Advocacy and Performance took place at Autograph ABP in September 2016.


Tamar Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art and Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies at University College London

Karen Alexander is a writer, educator and freelance curator based in London, focusing primarily on black British film and feminist cinema.

Ajamu is a London-based fine art photographer and queer visual activist with a special interest in traditional nineteenth-century printing processes.

Ama Josephine Budge is a science fiction and fantasy/art writer, artist and anti-conference organiser.

Renee Mussai is Senior Curator and Head of Archive & Research at Autograph ABP.

About the event

Doors will open at 6pm for an oportunity to view our current exhibition Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama.

This event will be seated, and take place in the Gallery 1.

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Additional info

Autograph ABP
Rivington Place
London EC2A 3BA

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