London-based curator Anne Duffau introduces us to her platform A- – -Z as well as StudioRCA Riverlight. Working on the programme for this coming year, the series will be looking at the notion of the ‘other’, bodies and public spaces, cybernetic/women and technology, exploring the possible changes to questioning and rethinking our future as well as our past.
Or be divided,
By those who see you as prey.
Or be destroyed.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower, 1993
I have been running an exploratory curatorial platform named A- – -Z for the past five years. One of the main aims is to push boundaries in what an exhibition could be, as well as what curating means – (I sometimes prefer the word cultural producer). Playing on language and words, A- – -Z is a morphic entity, it infiltrates unusual spheres, a bit like a virus. Flexible in its format, it offers a platform for practitioners to trigger experiments – looking at what’s happening in art, speculative design, music, ecology and more.
Thinking on how a narrative is often used as a way to address socio-political concerns, A- – -Z started with a screening A– -Apocalypse at V22, with works by Anri Sala, Benedict Drew, Katja Davar, Chris Cunningham, Alicja Rogalska, The Otolith Group and many more.
This first event set the tone for an interest in sci-fi and fiction in order to address current issues. A- – -Z disseminates works through printed matter to create alternative distribution streams, using formats such as postcards, B—Beyond with Jon Rafman or a calendar Days of the Nones with 12 artists including Emma Hart, Markus Water, Alix Marie, Tai Shani and Doggerland, or a newspaper with the fashion designer Dinu Bodiciu and Kabukimono.
The platform also operates online with projects such as Status Quo – where I commissioned artists to make gifs in relation to their current concerns or moods, including Evan Ifekoya, Martha Rosler, Mark Leckey, Matt Calderwood, Keep it complex – make it clear, Patrick Staff and Erica Scourti.
For the past year, A- – -Z has been based in Nine Elms in a space called StudioRCA Riverlight, at the bottom of apartment towers close to Vauxhall. Exhibitions, discussions, and performances including DJ-ing, large-format video projections and dance have been taking place throughout. From May 2016 to September 2017, A- – -Z presented the Dusk Exhibition Series with Ifekoya, Daniel Shanken, Rehana Zaman, Chooc Ly Tan, Heather McCalden, Imran Perretta, Johann Arens, Karolina Lebek and Susannah Stark. The invited artists showed newly commissioned videos and installations for a month each, to be experienced from outside the gallery space – fully visible only during the dark hours, and shown for the first time in London. A performance and/or talk introduced the project and focused on themes including transgender, sci-fi and the post-human.
Another series I’m working on is an ongoing curatorial collaboration with the artist Tai Shani called Dark Water. So far we made two large-scale events at CGP Gallery/Dilston Grove named ‘Dark Water’ and ‘Dark Water: The Dead of Night’ – these were designed to present evenings of performances and screenings around Sci-Fi, gender, the contemporary gothic and extending our ongoing research into the notions of amorphous body through technology and inner space.
A- – -Z has made a special selection for AQNB of what it’s been currently listening to and interested in – a mood board of the instant / picks of the present:
Victoria Sin is doing something unique and they explain their aims so poetically and clearly that this video should be played on public transports and in pubs: “The labour of femininity isn’t only the performance, it’s perseverance in the face of our ascribed and inscribed precarity. It’s the struggle to be respected and have our agencies recognized. When I decide to take up space it is often seen as rude to those who are used to be making myself small.”
7. Spike Jonze ‘I’m Here’
8. DJ Rachel
DJ Rachel is part of the East African collective called Santuri – I love the fact that they include a page called ‘femme electronic’ on their website.**