Marcia Michael
I Am Now You - Mother

27 April - 7 July 2018


London, UK

Free exhibition

‘We search for our mothers in order to find ourselves. The black mother is the instrument and embodiment of history. My mother is “The Object of My Gaze”’ – Marcia Michael

In I Am Now You – Mother, Marcia Michael visualises the act of matrilineage through the body of her mother, Myrtle McKnight.

Michael uses photography and oral history to retrieve lost and reimagined narratives of her matrilineal ancestry, creating an intimate dialogue between mother and daughter in order visualise history from her mother’s memory. In the artist’s own words: ‘my desire is to recover a visual and aural narrative of my matrilineal history and reunite the present with the past. The body is testament to the refusal to forget. The body, my mother’s body, is all of my histories’.

Adapting call and response as a visual methodology, Michael’s call for historical understanding is met by her mother’s response permitting the search to be mediated through her body. The resulting visual conversation is unsettling in its revelatory rawness, and affirmative in its courageous offering: a ‘dialogue of matrilineage’.

Concerned with ancestral history and re-remembering, many of the photographs’ titles include the Latin Partus sequitur ventrem:‘that which is brought forth follows the womb’. This historical law, which decreed that the social status of the mother is inherited by the child, shapes the mother for Michael as both maker and marker of history.

In the video Remembering You Remember Me, Myrtle McKnight is presented in five simultaneous frames, each retelling the birth of her child. The layered, poly-vocal narrative of her uncensored maternal voice creates a powerful and disorientating effect, recovering the history of a matrilineal memory.

The exhibition includes a selection of works from Marcia Michael’s multidisciplinary project The Object of My Gaze (2015–17).

Join us at the opening event for our new exhibitions Marcia Michael: I Am Now You - Mother and Franklyn Rodgers: Devotion - A Portrait of Loretta on Thurs 26 April, 6:30 - 8:30pm.

About the artist

Marcia Michael (b. 1973) is a London-based artist. She dedicates her artistic practice to the wide and ever-changing parameters of the black family album, depicting black British life in a highly personal approach. I Am Now You – Mothercontinues her exploration of matrilineal lineage, a process she began with The Study of Kin in 2009.

Her work has been shown internationally, twice been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and recently featured in the journal MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. She is currently studying for a practice-based PhD in photography at University of Arts London (UAL). Michael was the 2015 Artist in Residence at the Autograph ABP / Light Work residency in Syracuse, NY.

Curated by

Marcia Michael: I Am Now You - Mother is Curated by Renée Mussai at Autograph ABP.

Directions and opening hours

Autograph ABP
Rivington Place

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The main entrance is on the side of the building.

We are located in the heart of Shoreditch, a short walk from Old Street, Liverpool Street and Shoreditch High Street stations.
Buses: 26, 43, 48, 55, 67, 149, 205, 242 and 271

Exhibition opening times
Tues, Wed, Fri 11am – 6pm
Thurs 11am – 9pm,
Sat 12 – 6pm
The gallery is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Public Holidays

Visiting Information

We look forward to welcoming you to Autograph ABP. Admission to the exhibition is free and unticketed.

Visiting Autograph ABP
We are fully accessible with step free access to all areas of the building. A lift is available to all floors.

Ground Floor
Gallery 1, Franklyn Rodgers: Devotion - A Portrait of Loretta

Free lockers, ask at information desk for key
Accessible toilets
Baby change facilities
Information desk
Education Studio
Book and print sales

First Floor
Accessible toilets

Second Floor
Gallery 2, Marcia Michael: I Am Now You - Mother

Stuart Hall Library (Iniva). Hours >
Accessible toilets

Accessible Parking
If you would like to book an accessible parking bay or discuss your access needs, please contact us at 0207 7491240 or info@rivingtonplace.org before your visit.

Children and group visits
We are pram friendly, and welcome children to the gallery when accompanied by an adult.
Self-directed groups are welcome to the gallery. If you would like to book a workshop for your school or group, contact ali@autograph-abp.co.uk

More about visiting
You are welcome to take photographs for personal use or social media, tag us @autographabp on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We do not allow photographs to be taken in the galleries with large SLR cameras.

If you would like to take photographs for commercial or press use, please contact leyla@autograph-abp.co.uk before your visit.

To protect the artworks, please do not bring food or drink into the galleries.
We welcome guide dogs , however cannot allow other dogs into the building.

  • Marcia Michael, I am now you – Mother, from the series The Object of My Gaze, 2015-2017
  • Marcia Michael, I Am Now Uou – Mother, from the series The Object of My Gaze, 2015-2017
  • Marcia Michael I Am Now You - Mother exhibition at Autograph, London. Photo: Zoe Maxwell