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In the Black Fantastic: The Process of Curation
Curated by Ekow Eshun, In the Black Fantastic was a Hayward Gallery (London, UK) exhibition of 11 contemporary artists from the African diaspora, who question our knowledge of the world. As part of Apple’s Festival of Learning in 2022, exhibition curator Ekow Eshun gave a special insight to In the Black Fantastic to an online audience of educators. Eshun sat down with author and educator Jeffrey Boakye to discuss some of the themes of the exhibition.
Here is an extract of their conversation in response to an audience question about 'the process of curation'. (Reproduced with kind permission of the Southbank Centre)
Can you give us some insights into the curatorial process? How did you get up to 11 artists to take part, and do you think teachers and students can curate for impact in the same way?
Ekow Eshun: There's actually no mystery to curating. Essentially, I'm exploring an idea; I'm exploring an idea of what we do with propositions of race. What we do with fantasy and the fantastic as its own that can look seriously at those propositions. This is a conversation that can take place in a number of different forms or mediums.
What would this show look like if it wasn’t in the Hayward Gallery? Could you do a show like this in a classroom? I would say yes, because you're not reliant on the art works. Even before this was an exhibition, my initial process when this was a project was to look around me at what’s happening in culture. I referenced Beyonce’s Lemonade earlier, but equally Black Panther; when Black Panther comes out that's a big moment in the culture.
We can also look at different books. There's a series by an African American science fiction writer called N.K. Jemisin, called The Broken Earth, which are fantastic, extraordinary, rich works. All of these areas – film music, literature – are a basis for exploration of a territory. You don't actually need the white walls of a gallery. You just need to say let's devote some physical or mental space to thinking aloud about what these people are exploring. What happens when we start to draw links between those? Where does that take us? Where does that take us, imaginatively or creatively?
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