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Slought is pleased to announce Love and Oblivion, an exhibition exploring queer possibilities of affirmation, extravagance, and extinction, on display at Slought from August 5, 2021 through September 9, 2021. An opening performance/rave, free and open to the public, will take place on Thursday, August 5, 2021 from 7:30pm-12am.
Curated by Arien Wilkerson of Tnmot Aztro, the exhibition features work by artists including Kevin Hernández Rosa, Zygote, Domsentfrommars, ARL, Qiaira Riley, John Carlo Dionisio, Zay Ali and Arien Wilkerson. Their collective work serves as a commentary on love, loneliness, and the search for meaning amidst the pandemic.
For many, the isolation and suffering caused by COVID-19 led many to reflect on their own oblivion. Emotionally, loss and grief took hold inside many in our communities as we pondered our own extinction, even as we challenged ourselves to find new ways to relate to ourselves and one another. This was especially pronounced for many individuals in the Queer community, who experienced additional feelings of uncertainty on top of their everyday oppression. Some were forced to quarantine with people in their lives who made them feel unsafe, while others managed to foster new relationships in rebellion against the constant uneasiness of the circumstances. This exhibition invites us to consider how these times have profoundly altered how we cared for one another and ourselves, as well as how we frame and think about love itself.
In her book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2019), Saidiya Hartman examines Black intimate life in Philadelphia and elsewhere, and explores the wayward lifestyles that many Black women developed in the early twentieth century in the wake of past confinement, flight and captivity. Black women, she writes, sought “to wander, be unmoored, adrift, rambling, roving, cruising, strolling and seeking.” Love and Oblivion seeks to similarly convey the wayward lifestyles of queer Black trans women, Black trans nonbinary, and other gender nonconforming individuals during this pandemic. At the same time, the project also conveys how many came to reject the Afrofuturist belief in endless possibilities. “Already fighting for existence with the puissant, internalized omnipresence of chattel slavery,” curator Arien Wilkerson argues, a different relation to futurity emerged for many in these communities. The desire to not be remembered and to be actively forgotten by the public emerged, as did a desire to exist alongside the void of obscurity, nonexistence, and emptiness. Beyond pain and suffocation, beyond the very idea of futurity itself, Love and Oblivion seeks to stage the existential condition of living with “no future” — a manifesto, in effect, for radically accepting all that is unknown.