Rosa-Johan Uddoh Artist Talk

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Thursday 27th May 2021, 4pm, Zoom, sign up here.

Rosa-Johan Uddoh is an interdisciplinary artist working towards radical self-love, inspired by black feminist practice and writing. This artist talk will centre on her latest project and exhibition at Focal Point Gallery, London: ‘Practice Makes Perfect’, which explores the relationship of childhood education with popular ideas of the British nation and how this forms British subjects.

During Autumn 2020, Rosa-Johan Uddoh worked with Year 8 pupils at Chase Secondary School in Southend-on-Sea to create performance-to-camera videos. These developed through a series of workshops that considered Uddoh’s written work, WINDRUSH: A TONGUE TWISTER, as a means to express the young participants’ wishes for a diverse curriculum.

Another major new work by Uddoh investigates the historical figure of Balthazar, who was, according to tradition, one of the three biblical Magi and later Saint, who visited the infant Jesus after his birth. Depicted since medieval times as a lone black figure in the imagery of the Nativity, this King is also one of school children’s first performed encounters with a black person of importance. Historically, Balthazar is also a figure through which white artists and their patrons first constructed ‘blackness’.

Through her research, with the assistance of Nasra Abdullahi, Uddoh has found and catalogued around 150 historical `Balthazars’ previously tokenised in ‘Adoration’ paintings made throughout European history. Thinking about the real, black European sitters for these paintings, behind the Christian symbolism, Uddoh’s billboard-style collages bring these black kings together in friendship groups on a long march to irreversibly change the West.

For more information please email Dr Kate Keohane, kfk3@st-andrews.ac.uk

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