Bluecoat: Rosa-Johan Uddoh: Practice Makes Perfect
Dates: 16/10/2021 - 23/01/2022
Times: All Day
Practice Makes Perfect is focused on childhood education in Britain. Rosa Uddoh looks at how schooling forms an early understanding of what it means to be British, but also at what within this is marginalised or left out. Responding to current debates about Black history within the National Curriculum, Uddoh has approached creating new work for this exhibition as therapeutic ‘wish fulfilment’ in a time of uncertainty and tension.
The exhibition includes a major new work by Uddoh – a large scale collage – which investigates the historical figure of Balthazar. According to tradition, Balthazar was one of the three biblical Magi and later a Saint, who offered the gift of Myrrh to Jesus. Depicted since medieval times as a lone black figure in artistic imagery of the Nativity scene or ‘Adoration’, this King is often the first time school children encounter a Black person of importance in a performance.
Historically, Balthazar is also a figure through which white artists and their patrons in Europe first constructed ‘Blackness’. Through her research, with the assistance of Nasra Abdullahi, Uddoh has found and catalogued around 150 historical ‘Balthazars’ featured in ‘Adoration’ paintings made throughout European history. Thinking about the real, Black European sitters for these paintings, Uddoh’s billboard-style collage brings these Black kings together in friendship groups on a long march of solidarity to change the West.
The exhibition is also accompanied by a new publication published by Focal Point Gallery and Book Works in partnership with Bluecoat, Liverpool and The Bower, London. The book comprises a collection of scripts by Uddoh, each aiming to interrogate how a particular character in popular culture performs (and produces) Black British identity. Presented as scripts, sheet music & instructional worksheets, the reader is encouraged to insert their own experiences and interpretations, in their head or through live performances of their own. Selected texts will also be exhibited as works on paper within the exhibition. The book is designed by Rose Nordin.
Exhibition at Focal Point Gallery
17 May to 29 August 2021
Exhibition at Bluecoat
16 Oct 2021 to 23 Jan 2022.
Opening 15 Oct 2021.