The Evidence of Things Not Seen, a reference in part to James Baldwin’s book of the same title, speaks to the intangible but pervasive nature of identity. Using works from the JAG collection exclusively by artists of colour, the exhibition explores various forms of identity and explores issues of feminism, queerness, revolution and culture in Black identity.
Each room speaks to a different theme either quite overtly or in a more subtle, reticent manner. The exhibition is an opportunity for the public to see some works from the collection on display for the first time, such as Charles Nkosi’s iconic Black Crucifixion series and some of the gallery’s exciting new acquisitions such as Portia Zvavahera and Blessing Ngobeni, give the public a taste of the contemporary.
Artists featured include: Mary Sibande, Belinda Zangewa, Nandipha Mntambo, Tracey Rose, Berni Searle, Zanele Muholi, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Reshma Chhiba, Johannes Phokela, Santu Mofokeng, as well as some of pinnacle historical works of Dumile Feni, Gerard Sekoto, David Koloane and Cyprian Shilakoe.
To activate visual discourse around the themes in the exhibition, artists, photographers and the general public are invited to post portraits on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for Visible Tones: active visualisations of blackness, as part of The Evidence of Things Not Seen, by using #blackportrait #friendsofJAG
Visible Tones: active visualisations of blackness aims to encourage portraiture that celebrates agency and the social capital of the subject under the following curatorial themes:
- The Portrait as social capital
- The new black: fashion + portraiture + identity
- Beyond the selfie: performing self + the internet gaze
- Afrofuturism: Reimagining African identities
- Fallacies and phallacies: the portrait as gendered performance
- Queer lens: black LGBTQI views
- The archive reimagined and remixed
- Inverting the canon: black gaze, white face
An ongoing curated stream of submissions is broadcast on screen in JAG during gallery hours, as well as a live stream on the Friends of JAG website, as part of The Evidence of Things Not Seen. For more details and to participate in the open call, click here.
An important partner piece to the exhibition is a selection of artefacts and documents from the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA), one of the few times that this significant resource in the JAG collection will be on show. Read more about the FUBA here.
The Evidence of Things Not Seen coincides with an international series of events exploring black representation, in particular, the black portrait. Held from 16 - 19 November was Black Portraiture[s] III: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Cultures, the seventh international conference in a series of conversations about imaging the black body. The conference, together with Goodman’s Africans in America exhibitions, formed part of In Context 2016, an ongoing curatorial series initiated by Goodman Gallery director Liza Essers in 2010.