On the occasion of Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s Art on the Underground commission join writer and cultural commentator Ekow Eshun for an insightful panel discussion exploring ideas around politics of portraiture, interior painting as a space to address socio-political ideas and the work of Akunyili Crosby more widely. Eshun will be joined by Lucy Dahlsen, curator at the National Portrait Gallery who recently organised Akunyili Crosby’s display The Beautyful Ones and Michael McMillan author of The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home who’s book was one of the many influences to her Brixton commission.
Remain, Thriving 2018 is Akunyili Crosby’s first public commission in the UK currently on display at Brixton Underground station until 8 April 2019.
Ekow Eshun is a writer and curator. He is Chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, overseeing London’s most significant public art programme and Creative Director of Calvert 22 Foundation. He was the former Director of the ICA, London from 2005-2010 and he has curated several exhibitions including Made You Look: dandyism and black masculinity at The Photographer’s Gallery; Power & Architecture: public space and the post-Soviet world and Post-Soviet Visions: image and identity in the new Eastern Europe at Calvert 22, and Just Kids: Magnum photographers on youth culture, in association with Magnum. He has contributed catalogue essays for artists including Chris Ofili, Kehinde Wiley, Wangechi Mutu, John Akomfrah and Hassan Hajjaj. Eshun’s writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, Granta, Vogue, New Statesman and Wired and he is the author of Black Gold of the Sun: searching for home in England and Africa, nominated for the Orwell prize, and the editor of Africa Modern: creating the contemporary art of a continent.
Lucy Dahlsen is Associate Curator (20th Century – Contemporary) at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Recent exhibitions she has curated include Njideka Akunyili Crosby: The Beautyful Ones(2018), Samuel Fosso: Self Portraits (2017), Thomas J. Price: Now You See Me (2016) and she was co-curator of Michael Jackson: On the Wall (2018). She is currently curating a major exhibition devoted to Elizabeth Peyton opening in October 2019.
Michael McMillan is a London based writer, dramatist and artist. His plays and performance pieces have been produced by the Royal Court Theatre, Channel 4, BBC Radio 4 Drama and across the UK. Since the 1990s McMillan’s practice has taken a more interdisciplinary approach using devised performance, installation and mixed media in a collaborative context. His interdisciplinary practice uses mixed-media installation and curatorial work and includes: The West Indian Front Room (Geffrye Museum 2005-06); Van Huis Uit: The Living Room of Migrants in The Netherlands (Imagine IC, Amsterdam and Netherlands tour 2007–2008); The Waiting Room (Stories & Journeys, Gwynedd Museum & Art Gallery, Bangor 2012); and My Hair: Black Hair Culture, Style & Politics (Origins of the Afro Comb, MAA, Cambridge 2013).