DELLU BY ENAM GBEWONYO
7 Oct, 2023 - 13 Jan, 2024
New Art Exchange is pleased to present Dellu, a showcase of textural works and performances on film from Enam Gbewonyo, winner of the NAE Open 2022 Exhibition Prize.
Enam is a British-Ghanaian textile and performance artist, curator, and founder of BBFA (Black British Female Artist) collective. Her art practice investigates identity – womanhood in particular, whilst advocating the healing benefits of craft. She uses performance as a vessel, creating live spaces of healing and direction to a positive place of awareness to counter systems of oppression such as racism and sexism. Her work enables audiences to face the truth of a dark past surrounding colonial legacies and the emotions they bring forth.
Recent exhibitions include Body Poetics at Southampton’s GIANT Gallery, and Rites of Passage at Gagosian in London. Her work has been presented internationally at the 58th Venice Biennale, Art X Lagos, and UNTITLED Art Fair in Miami. In 2022 she one of 16 artists selected for the prestigious Black Rock residency in Dakar, Senegal, founded by acclaimed artist Kehinde Wiley.
She is represented by London-based gallery TAFETA, who specialise in 20th-century and contemporary African art.
This exhibition comprises of two acts:
Act I: Nude Me / Under the Skin
Nude Me / Under the Skin is a series of works started in 2016, that investigates the relationship between black women and hosiery, charting the history of that relationship back to some of its earliest renditions as stockings in the 18th century and its ties to slavery. The work in this series also looks at the connection to the Windrush generation, where black women supported the empire through the NHS and tights were part of their uniform. Through this series, Gbewonyo addresses how resilient black women were, and still are, and the many ways they have been subjugated while still finding ways to pull through. Sustainability and dance, specifically ballet, is incorporated into her work as I use used tights worn by black women.
The works included in this series have been loaned for the exhibition by the artist and TAFETA Gallery.
Act II: Dellu
Dellu (translation from Wolof: The Return) is a series of work commissioned by New Art Exchange, made in 2023, and featuring the artist’s most ambitious film work to date. These works were developed as part of her residency at Black Rock Senegal, where she spent six weeks exploring the role French colonisation played in changing the shape of Senegalese women’s lives up to the present day, Senegal’s strained history, and rich traditions. Nature plays a fundamental part in the work, informed by the striking backdrops to rituals performed in the performance film, and referenced in the colours used in the costumes and textural works. As with the works in Nude Me / Under the Skin, Le Retour seeks to break the cycle of generational and lived trauma that women carry.
This series of work was commissioned by New Art Exchange with funds from Arts Council England, and additional funding support from The Elephant Trust.
Image: Still from Dellu by Enam Gbewonyo