In this programme, we view meandering as a winding course, a journey or movement of people that zigzags, intersects, twists and turns. It is a non-linear framework that allows us to think of our relationship to one another and the sector—past, present, and future—as complex and not straightforward.
The River Clyde meanders through the city of Glasgow, reminding us of how land and water act as not only physical dividers, but have been historically weaponised as an enforcer of empire and preserver of colonial legacies. Understanding borders as not only comprising land and water that divides nations, the programme also considers how borders and categorisations are imposed on migrants, Black people, and POC reflecting, for example, on the brick and mortar of the Gallery of Modern Art, previously owned by a merchant with ties to the slave trade, and intangible contemporary structures that may exclude Black communities.
In the era of Brexit and Black Lives Matter (BLM), biennales and public art institutions state they are 'open to all' but have restrictions as to who can work and who can not, who is and is not considered an 'expert' and invited into these spaces, and who is considered as either the producers or consumers of culture. There has always been a significant disparity in wages between the bottom and top workers within contemporary art galleries, disproportionately impacting Black workers. Throughout the pandemic, we have observed burnout, mass redundancies, and anti-Blackness through the hyper-attention, over-policing, forceful racialisation and politicisation of Black and POC bodies in the UK and overseas. In March 2021, the UK Home Secretary tried to introduce draconian laws to impose disproportionate controls on free expression in response to BLM protests.
Meandering Networks, Mapping Nations is a moment for a change of pace and recuperation.
Expanding on our choice of slowness as an approach, BCC has spent the past year slowly having conversations about these issues and created a critical yet supportive space where they are disrupted and interrogated. BCC and other Black-led initiatives have importantly centred warmth, joy and learning within our interactions and held space for nuanced responses across the emotional spectrum to this overwhelming seismic moment. As a community, we have allowed Black curators to process and just be, on their terms.
The programme shifts the conversation away from solely considering where we physically reside to unpacking our relationship to place. We are beginning to examine how curatorial practice and collectivity relate to sites. Together with our guests and speakers, we will focus on how we collectively build and sustain culture in these places, starting with Glasgow and Scotland.
Meandering Networks, Mapping Nations is curated by the Black Curators Collective (BCC) and coordinated by collective members April Brown, Chloe Austin, Jade Foster, Khadea Kuchenmeister, Natasha Ruwona, Nikita Gill, Sabrina Henry, Umulkhayr Mohamed, Ifeanyi Awachie, and Yewande YoYo Odunbi.
Meandering Networks, Mapping Nations is part of 2021 GI Events Programme, supported by Art Fund.
Gaëtane Verna's contribution is supported in partnership with International Curators Forum.
International Curators Forum (ICF)
International Curators Forum (ICF) was founded by artists and curators in 2007 to offer a dynamic and evolving programme that responds to the conditions and contexts impacting creative practitioners through commissions, exhibitions, projects, publications and events. We provide tools and platforms for professional development and facilitate an open peer- to-peer network inviting participants to be part of a generative system of skills and knowledge transfer. Across all of our work, both critically and practically, we aim to challenge the barriers to equality and inclusivity within our industry.