What the hELL she do'in! Collective.

72sq Metres of Afro Sky Solo Show Sonia e Barrett

at the Villa Romana the historic refuge from Nazi Germany for German Artists. 7th Feb till 20th March.2020

Solo show Jamaican/ German/ British Artist: sonia e barrett

Artist statement

Everywhere that the sky has been violently reimagined as a white celestial place is on fire right now, the continent of Africa, in Brazil, in Australia, wanting to visually reclaim the sky as a powerful black space, afro-textured hair is the vessel to do it. 

Clouds cycle through many colours, the black cloud is the pregnant fertile life-giving cloud. 

I used a multitude of different hair textures in this work. 

Sky reclaims the celestial as a black space. Perhaps when we reimagine a nourished sky as black when we look at each other as black people we can see different celestial beings.

The clouds are a mixture of the afro textures used to simulate hair and real hair. The real hair in this work is given to me in trust by fellow artists, friends and family members. 

Everyone who comes to this work has to look up. 

The clouds live kind of diaspora beyond any single nation-state ascending from the soil in one nation returning to the soil in another. 

Now the world is burning and environmental catastrophe is near, it looks like black peoples on many continents have lost their fight for soil, to own and determine ancestral lands and land and property in the lands we have been migrated to and from with or without choice.

There is a visual irony that over/development has always blackened the sky. Without these developments, a dark sky would simply herald the advent of just enough of an essential life-giving force: rain. 

Black ways of understanding the soil and the sky have long been looked down on as undeveloped perhaps the opposite will be shown to be true, the white cloud can be seen as the "undeveloped" black cloud. From clouds we can learn that development is a matter of perspective.

The work is about a powerful vision of black collectivity, it is a group of singular clouds but individuation is not lost entirely, nor is a fixed ideal or imposed upon the collective which always stays loose and fluid both "me" and "we" are possible. In certain formations, this is more or less apparent. This is why this is a sculptural work. 

The clouds are a black space that is fluid beyond binaries and fixity, too often symbols of black close down meanings rather than opening them up.  

This is a work that is created in community although that hasn't been documented yet it would be powerful to expand and travel this work. 

Curated by Black History Month Vienna in the Villa Romana, Florence Italy.

Curatorial Statement What the hELL she doin! collective

Suspended, soft, tender, Clouds (2019) linger in the room ever-present, delicate and overwhelmingly powerful. Full in the weight, the silence of the space they hold collectively is un-ignorable. Hair holds the DNA of a person, of a people. The remains, the cut parts, the fragments are weighty in their evidence. There is lightness and simultaneously a power, a deep burden of proof. In a world on fire Barrett´s work consistently holds the space for the violently erased. Rain-filled clouds; a life-giving potential or smoke bearing the weight of the past, Barrett´s work, is a black space. A space beyond time, beyond past and present. A collective and individual space that is shape shifting and fluid.

About: what the hell she do'in?

What the hell she doi'in is a female artist collective from Africa and her diasporas who desire to set and not just react to contemporary art agendas. The members see their work as intermeshed and as such have collectivised to support each other in interrogation, research, making and platforming

All images without people credited to OKNOstudio, all images with people credited to Adeola Hahn

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