A group exhibition curated by Yinka Shonibare MBE explores the subversive and the magical in the context of African and African diasporic cultures. Talisman in the Age of Difference runs from 5 June to 21 July 2018 and features works made from the past century. Artists featured in the exhibition include Larry Achiampong, Ghada Amer, Romare Bearden, Armand Boua, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Sonia Boyce, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Beauford Delaney, Samuel Fosso, Kendell Geers, Hassan Hajjaj, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Isaac Julien, Abdoulaye Konaté, Hew Locke, Whitfield Lovell, Wangechi Mutu, Otobong Nkanga, Temitayo Ogunbiyi, William Pope.L, Jeremiah Quarshie, Faith Ringgold, Deborah Roberts, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Kehinde Wiley and Portia Zvavahera.
Talisman in the Age of Difference looks at magic and beauty in work by artists of African origin and across the diaspora and by artists who empathise with the spirit of African resistance and representation. The works include paintings, drawings, objects and sculptures, many of which challenge conventions of beauty. Shonibare’s focus is on the power of subversive beauty as a form of resistance.
In the context of the exhibition the artwork is a talisman - both a marker of change and an active producer of change. A talisman is simultaneously a gateway to the vast and unknown, a projection of hopes, wishes and desires, and a political vehicle.
Questions at the heart of Talisman in the age of difference include 'Can political art truly convey the power of its subject? Can art that is unconventionally beautiful be a form of resistance?’. The exhibition, and the accompanying reading list compiled by Iniva from the Stuart Hall Library collection, seeks to address these and other questions linked to beauty, convention, spirituality and identity. Also accompanying the exhibition is an essay by Antwaun Sargent titled Black Magic, written in response to the exhibition.