Chisenhale Gallery presents a new commission and the first major solo exhibition in a UK institution by artist Paul Maheke. Comprising an immersive installation occupying the entire gallery, A fire circle for a public hearing develops Maheke’s ongoing engagement with the potential of the body as an archive in order to address how history, memory and identity are formed and constituted.
For his exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery Maheke explores the tension between hypervisibility and erasure. Incorporating installation, video, sound and performance, the exhibition alters and adapts throughout its duration. Curtains resembling back-stage theatre sets are installed across the gallery and function as both props for performances and as a way of delineating space, while a wall mural outlines a speculative cosmology of interconnected worlds. A sound work, composed in collaboration with artist Sophie Mallett, plays on a loop and acts as a companion to a silent video depicting Maheke’s dancing body – present and persistent, but not always fully visible. The gallery doors are removed, and windows revealed, adjusting interior and exterior space.
Within the exhibition, performers deliver a series of daily choreographies. Combining spoken word, movement and dance, the performers embody different characters, such as the ghost, the drag king and the oracle. Presented in three parts, the performance repositions fragments of art history and popular culture, working from pre-existing texts, images, music, performance and film. Felix Gonzalez Torres’ performance, Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform) (1991), is reformatted and repeated, alongside gestures sampled from Michael Jackson’s 1992 Dangerous World Tour rehearsals. Daily performances start at 3pm throughout the duration of the exhibition and last for 45 minutes.
A fire circle for a public hearing seeks to consider how acts of visibility and invisibility serve to question the presence and absence of marginalised narratives in dominant histories, inviting visitors to assert their own understanding of possible pasts or futures. By speculating on worlds and life elsewhere, Maheke’s new exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery becomes a public site to re-articulate and reinvent forms of relationality and representation, as much as a device for developing a new lexicon for thinking about identities outside of identity politics.
As part of the commissioning process, a programme of discursive events has been devised in collaboration with Maheke, including talks and performances at the gallery and offsite events at local schools. Maheke’s exhibition continues the programme for 2018, which includes major new commissions by artists Lydia Ourahmane, Banu Cennetoğlu and Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Through his work, Maheke raises complex questions concerning how knowledge is produced, exchanged and consumed, themes which recur throughout Chisenhale’s programme for 2018.
Daily performances start at 3pm throughout the duration of the exhibition and last for 45 minutes.
Part 1: I took everything and made it my own (the ghost is an appropriationist)
13 April – 29 April 2018
Performed by: Titilayo Adebayo, Heather Agyepong and Carrie Topley.
Part 2: A place you only go through
2 May – 20 May 2018
Performed by: Carrie Topley.
Part 3: Entanglements (the assembly)
23 May – 10 June 2018
Performed by: Titilayo Adebayo and Heather Agyepong.
Please note that some performances include nudity.
Paul Maheke (b. 1985, Brive-la-Gaillarde, France) lives and works in London. Previous solo exhibitions include Acqua Alta, Galerie Sultana, Paris; What Flows Through and Across, Assembly Point, London; In Me Everything is Already Flowing, Center, Berlin (all 2017); and I Lost Track of the Swarm, South London Gallery (2016). Selected group exhibitions include (X) A Fantasy, David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Ten Days Six Nights, Tate Modern, London; Diaspora Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale, Italy; Posthuman Complicities, Akademie der Künste, Vienna (all 2017); and Seeking After *deep within*, Grand Union, Birmingham.
Paul Maheke's exhibition is produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg.
Paul Maheke's exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery is supported by Fluxus Art Projects and Joe and Marie Donnelly. With additional support from Gaia Art Foundation and the Paul Maheke Supporters Circle. With thanks to Galerie Sultana, Paris and Davidoff Art Initiative.
Chisenhale Gallery’s Commissions Programme 2017-19 is supported by the LUMA Foundation.
Chisenhale Gallery’s Curatorial Trainee Programme 2016-18 is supported by Sirine and Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh.
Chisenhale Gallery’s Engagement Programme 2018 is supported by The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity and the Engagement Programme Supporters Circle.
- Saturday 14 April
Paul Maheke is joined in conversation by Paul Goodwin to discuss his new commission at Chisenhale Gallery in relation to his wider practice. Paul Goodwin is a curator and urban theorist whose research focuses on black and diaspora artists and visual cultures. He is a professor in contemporary art and urbanism and Director of TrAIN (Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation) at University of the Arts London. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.Saturday 28 April
The White Pube lead a gallery tour of Paul Maheke’s new exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery. Taking the format of a ‘live review’, the White Pube invite the audience to experience and respond to the exhibition collectively. The White Pube is a collaboration between Zarina Muhammad and Gabrielle de la Puente under which they write art criticism. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.Thursday 3 May
Emma Moore, Curator: Engagement at Chisenhale Gallery gives an introduction to Paul Maheke’s exhibition. This event is programmed in association with First Thursdays, where galleries across East London stay open until 9pm on the first Thursday of each month.Saturday 5 May
Creative Space presents an interactive workshop for children exploring astronomy and space in the context of Paul Maheke’s exhibition. The content of this workshop will be most suitable for children aged between 5–11 years old, however all are welcome. Children under 13 years must be accompanied by an adult. Creative Space is a Community Interest Company offering astronomy outreach and public engagement for audiences of all ages. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.Wednesday 16 May
Nkisi presents a sonic lecture in response to Paul Maheke’s new commission at Chisenhale Gallery. Nkisi is the alias of Melika Ngombe Kolongo. She is a producer, DJ and co-founder of NON Records, a collective of African artists and artists of the diaspora, using sound as their primary media, to articulate the visible and invisible structures that create binaries in society. Please note that this event is ticketed (£5 / £3 Concessions) and places are limited. Please visit chisenhale.eventbrite.co.uk or ask at the front desk to book.Thursday 31 May
An early morning viewing of Paul Maheke’s exhibition, with an introduction to the work by Ellen Greig, Curator: Commissions at Chisenhale Gallery. Coffee and cakes are generously provided by the East End Women’s Institute. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.Saturday 2 June
Paul Maheke leads a workshop for young people. Working in small groups and using movement-based exercises, Maheke and participants explore collaboration and collective practice. This workshop is suitable for young people aged 15 – 25 years and there are no skills required to participate. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.Thursday 7 June
Layla Gatens, Curatorial Assistant: Engagement at Chisenhale Gallery gives an introduction to Paul Maheke’s exhibition.This event is programmed in association with First Thursdays, where galleries across East London stay open until 9pm on the first Thursday of each month.
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