The latest exhibitions championing diversity in the art world

Posted by for Life

White men might dominate the history of art, but Roxane is keen to highlight the exhibitions bringing diversity to the world’s top cultural institutions.

Personal History

Through her large-scale portraits of relatives and friends, the British-Nigerian artist Joy Labinjo brings her family photo album to joyful, exuberant life in her first solo exhibition. Drawing on her experiences of growing up in Stevenage, her work explores the universal themes of identity and belonging, race and culture. She’s passionate about the importance of representation in the art world. “It would be amazing for little black kids to go to a gallery and think: I can do this,” she says.

Joy Labinjo's portraits explore themes such as race and belonging.
Joy Labinjo's portraits explore themes such as race and belonging.

Joy Labinjo: Our Histories Cling To Us; until 23 February 2020; free; Baltic, Gateshead NE8; baltic.art

Life on the edge

Calais - Witnessing the Jungle explores life in the camp and the theme of migration.

Through documentary footage, photography and witness accounts from both journalists and the refugees and exiles who lived there, this hard-hitting exhibition uncovers the harsh reality of ‘The Jungle’. While focusing on the infamous camp on the outskirts of Calais that was dismantled in October 2016, it expertly explores the wider issues around migration.

Calais – Witnessing The Jungle; until 24 February 2020; free; Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, Paris; centrepompidou.fr

Confidence vote

Chirlane McCray is celebrating 100 years of suffrage by adorning the Mayoral residence with art by women.

When the first lady of New York Chirlane McCray, above, moved into Gracie Mansion in 2014, all she saw were white men hanging on the walls. Now, to mark the 100th anniversary of US women’s suffrage, she has teamed up with art historian Jessica Bell Brown to adorn the public spaces of the mayoral residence with art by 44 women, from big names like Cindy Sherman to talented newcomers.

She Persists: A Century Of Women Artists; until December 2019; free; Gracie Mansion, New York; nyc.gov/gracietours

Troubled waters

Kara Walker's exhibition explores the dark history of the British Empire.

There are only two pieces in Kara Walker’s show at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, but they invoke all the wonder and thought-provoking artistry of an extensive exhibition. The first is a looming oyster shell holding an unusual pearl, the second a working fountain inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace – but rather than celebrating the might of the British Empire, the contorted statues recall its dark history.

Fons Americanus; until 5 April 2020; free; Tate Modern, London SE1; tate.org.uk

Queer Identities 

Exposure of Tolerance explores the queer and trans experience in Southeast Asia.

Showcasing work by more than 50 LGBTQ+ artists, this show at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre explores the queer and trans experience in Southeast Asia and around the world. From Michael Ishaowanasai’s moving portrait of a monk in make-up to Adam Hague’s electrifying photographs, there are so many gems to uncover.

Spectrosynthesis II – Exposure Of Tolerance: LGBTQ In Southeast Asia; 23 November – 1 March 2020; free; Bangkok Art & Culture Centre; en.bacc.or.th

Photography: Ben Fisher, Getty, Zeeshan Haider

Art: Untitled, 2019, and Bride-To-Bed, 2019, by Joy Labinjo; courtesy of the artist and Tiwani Contemporary; Impact, 2015 by Adam Hague.

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