artists & participants
Serpentine Sackler Gallery
West Carriage Drive
London W2 2AR
Grace Wales Bonner. A Time for New Dreams
19.01.2019 - 16.02.2019
Featuring: Chino Amobi, Black Audio Film Collective, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Michael-John Harper, Liz Johnson Artur, Rashid Johnson, Kapwani Kiwanga, Klein, Laraaji, Eric N. Mack, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Ben Okri, Ishmael Reed, Sahel Sounds, Grace Wales Bonner
The first in a new series of unique projects in the fields of music, fashion, art and design.
Grace Wales Bonner is a cultural polymath, who sees fashion as a means to explore ideas of identity and self-expression. Wales Bonner is recognised as one of the most innovative designers of her generation who is changing the ways in which we understand this discipline. Through the course of her research, she has developed a design process that involves a rich cross-pollination of sources, bringing together literary, musical and visual references. Key to her practice are long-term collaborations with other practitioners who bridge multiple disciplines and genres. Each of her fashion collections is a meditation on cultural narratives, presented within a carefully considered scenography.
Themes of mysticism and ritual permeate Wales Bonner’s exhibition, which explores magical resonances within black cultural and aesthetic practices. Taking its title from Ben Okri’s volume of essays, A Time for New Dreams (2011), the exhibition focuses on the shrine as a symbolic pathway for imagining different worlds and possibilities. Over the course of one month, a multi-sensory installation and series of happenings invite contemplation and activate the gallery. The show features an assemblage of site-specific installations and shrines. Interested in the improvisations, intentions and uses of shrines throughout black histories, Wales Bonner views these spiritual structures as material portals into multiple frames of experience. Drawing upon the images and rhythms of rituals and ceremonies from all over the world, she moves across time and space by bringing these references into dialogue. A Time for New Dreams shifts continuously between collective and individual rituals—from the shared experience of a musical performance to the transformative encounter with a text or an image.
Punctuating the exhibition is a live programme, including Wales Bonner’s autumn/winter 2019 runway show, Mumbo Jumbo, which will mark the show’s culmination. Conjuring and exploring various characters, their dress, and the worlds and spaces they inhabit, the collection features certain protagonists, such as the artist-shaman, a West African spiritual healer, and a gathering of Howard University intellectuals. At its close, the exhibition will become a stage-set, activated by the models who perform the characters of Wales Bonner’s new collection. A printed booklet will accompany the exhibition, with commissioned texts by Chino Amobi, Ishmael Reed and collage by Grace Wales Bonner.
Central to Wales Bonner’s project is a series of collaborations with other artists, whose live interventions will be staged throughout its one-month duration. Multi-instrumentalist, mystic and laughter meditation practitioner, Laraaji, will lead a series of meditation workshops during the exhibition’s opening days that will become a lasting shrine of sound within the space. Details of forthcoming live programmes will be online soon at serpentinegalleries.org.
Friday, January 18
Opening preview: 6–9pm, featuring a deep listening experience with Laraaji
Sunday, January 20
11am and 4pm: Laughter and gong meditations with Laraaji
A project by Grace Wales Bonner, curated by Claude Adjil, Curator at Large, Live Programmes, and Joseph Constable, Assistant Exhibitions Curator
The exhibition is supported by Nick and Caroline Clarry. Additional support is provided by: British Council, Bloomberg Philanthropies, AECOM, Weil and Arts Council England.