LondonPace Live - Torkwase Dyson: Liquid a Place
*A. Encounters. Thursday 7 October, 4pm. With Harry Alexander, Maëva Berthelot, Dionne Brand, Joseph Funnell, Tyehimba Jess, and Malik Nashad Sharpe
*B. 2000 Black. Saturday 9 October, 1pm & 4pm. With Dr. LeRonn P. Brooks, Christina Sharpe, Rowdy SS, and GAIKA
*C. Precarity-Scale. Monday 11 October, 1pm & 4pm. Maëva Berthelot and GAIKA, with a sound piece by Ron Trent
Pace Gallery is delighted to inaugurate its new gallery at 5 Hanover Square with Liquid a Place, a collaborative performance and multi-media installation by Torkwase Dyson presented by Pace Live. Dyson will transform one of the new gallery spaces with a series of sculptures, activated by a site-specific sound piece. On October 7, 9 and 11, the installation will serve as a stage for leading writers, poets, dancers and musicians, selected by Dyson, to engage with issues of environmental racism, spatial liberation and sensoria. This performance is part of the Pace Live programme, the gallery’s platform for the exploration and intersection of multidisciplinary art forms.
Dyson describes her practice through the lens of painting while working across a breadth of mediums, including performance, sculpture, film, and drawing among others. Dyson’s work facilitates conversations around the relationship between Black and Brown bodies and the surrounding environment. Using her incisive and original vision, she explores the continuity between ecology, infrastructure, and architecture across time and space. Black Compositional Thought—a working philosophy Dyson uses to consider how bodies of water, geographies and other physical and non-physical spaces are composed and inhabited by Black and Brown bodies throughout history—is at the core of her exploratory practice. For Dyson black spatial liberation strategies are critical in the creation of more liveable futures.
Liquid a Place uses water to explore ideas of ontology, perception, liberation and memory. Dyson’s work considers the body as an infrastructure for water, inviting viewers to consider their interconnection with the rivers, meadows and oceans that surround us. In June 2021, as part of the Pace Live commission, Dyson spent a month undergoing rigorous research in London in anticipation of this experimental and visionary project. Following the River Thames and recalling the people and objects it has transported, Dyson’s research looks at the ways in which water shapes our cities and societies, both as a geographic dividing line and a site for the enslavement and trafficking of Black and Brown peoples. In this way, Dyson marries thinking around the history of colonisation, empire and the triangle trade with questions of contemporary life, in particular the ongoing climate crisis. In Dyson’s words, ‘This project acknowledges that we are always the water in the room.’
Conceived as a second iteration of a performance Dyson developed in 2019 in New York as a commission for the gallery’s inaugural Pace Live programme, Liquid a Place will open with three performances on October 7, 9, 11. Under Dyson’s direction, an interplay of music, poetry, dance, sound and written word will be performed within her sculptural installation. Building upon her thinking around Black Spatial Liberation within the context of the United Kingdom, Dyson is collaborating with several London-based performers, Harry Alexander, Maëva Berthelot, Joseph Funnell, Rowdy SS, Malik Nashad Sharpe and Gaika. Also contributing to this project will be leading North American figures Dionne Brand, Leronn Brooks, Tyehimba Jess and Christina Sharpe.
Liquid a Place will be accompanied by the release of a limited-edition double A-Side Dubplate by Pace Publishing, featuring Dyson’s sound piece remixed by pioneering Chicago-based DJ and producer Ron Trent, as well as music by London based artist Gaika. Dubplates—a master record from which vinyl is pressed—have been instrumental in disseminating reggae, jungle, garage and grime across African and Caribbean diasporas in the UK. As such, within Dyson’s practice a dubplate functions as a vessel for Black Compositional Thought.
Coinciding with Liquid a Place, Dyson is included in the multidisciplinary ecological project Back to Earth at the Serpentine Gallery. The artist will also be the subject of a major solo exhibition presented by the Hall Foundation at Schloss Derneburg, Germany, opening September 2021.
Liquid a Place will be the first exhibition in Pace’s new London gallery on Hanover Square. The opening programme will also feature Mark Rothko 1968: Clearing Away, the first exhibition in the UK solely dedicated to the artist’s paper-based practice. Dyson’s work will also form a central component of Pace’s Frieze London participation, including a dedicated online viewing room of new works on paper.
About the Collaborators
Harry Alexander is a London based Dancer and Movement Director. He has been a member of Michael Clark Company since 2010, started performing with Julie Cunningham & Company in 2016 and has also danced choreography by Lea Anderson, Carlos Pons Guerra and Thick and Tight.
Maëva Berthelot is a choreographer, performer, movement director and teacher whose mode of working unfolds along the threshold between experimental, performative and collaborative approaches.
Dionne Brand is a renowned poet, novelist, and essayist known for formal experimentation and the beauty and urgency of her work. Brand’s award-winning poetry books include Land to Light On; thirsty; Inventory; and Ossuaries (winner of the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize).
Dr. Leronn Brooks Ph.D. is the Associate Curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections, specializing in African American art, at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. Dr. Brooks is a specialist in African American art, poetics, performance, and Africana Studies.
Joseph Funnell is an interdisciplinary artist, performer and activist based in London, who works to support migrant rights, the LGBTQIA+ community, the movement for black lives and the anti-racist struggle.
Gaika is a multi-disciplinary artist from South London. Through an experimental and prolific approach that darkly fuses music, art, technology, literature and film into a catch-all aesthetic, Gaika has created a unique style he terms ‘Ghetto Futurism’.
Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, Leadbelly and Olio. Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Rowdy SS is a London born and based, multidisciplinary artist. Often working at the intersection/s of sound/music, dance/movement and live performance alongside making videos; working with instigation and/or response. He is currently a Somerset House Studios Resident Artist.
Christina Sharpe is a writer, professor, and Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York University. She is the author of: In the Wake: On Blackness and Being and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects. Her third book, Ordinary Notes, will be published in 2022 (Knopf/FSG/Daunt).
Malik Nashad Sharpe is an artist working with choreography. They create performances that are formally experimental and engaged with the construction of atmosphere, affect, and dramaturgy.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)