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The augmented reality artworks will appear on the streets surrounding The Photographers' Gallery
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Our new exhibitions will open tomorrow (Friday). Please note we will close early at 3pm today.
It is in the blackness of abysses that I discovered how to express myself. From the dormant darkness to the off-centre lights of my invertebrate friends. I take the plunge, whirring from bass to bass, the Drecxyian people accompanying me.Watery Thoughts, Josèfa Ntjam
Underground Resistance - Living memories by Josèfa Ntjam is the second commission of Open Space – an Augmented Reality (AR) initiative co-curated with Zaiba Jabbar (HERVISIONS) developed with Oliver Ellmers for Soho Photography Quarter, a new public art space in the immediate surroundings of The Photographers’ Gallery.
This new work by Josèfa Ntjam intertwines mythical water narratives, historic resistance groups, and influential black digital artists and cultures. A series of large photomontages installed at street level leads to a rich and lively digital world containing a diverse range of aquatic creatures and mythological symbols.
The title takes the name of the black militant techno music collective Underground Resistance, connecting their creative processes of sampling and remixing to Ntjam’s approach to digital collage and photomontage.
Josèfa Ntjam’s work draws from fertile research on historic events, scientific methodologies, and popular digital cultures. These various research strands are brought together to propose alternative technological futures, to bring a focus on black struggles and to speculate with new potential worlds inspired by African mythologies.
A specially designed phone app gives access to an interactive digital space, where references to iconic black musicians including Sun Ra, Drexciya and Underground Resistance meet with archival photographs from the Black Panther Party, representations of Mami Wata –the mythological African water spirit– and Pokémon –the game and anime franchise. In Ntjam’s digital world, fluid and aquatic creatures such as jellyfish invade the streets around The Photographers’ Gallery, suggesting forms of resistance to the flooded times to come.
An artwork by Josèfa Ntjam
Curated by Zaiba Jabbar and The Photographers’ Gallery digital programme
Technical direction and software development by Oliver Ellmers / Pretty Lucky
Animations by Alice Aires
Produced by The Photographers’ Gallery
With the support of Nicoletti Contemporary
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
Josèfa Ntjam is an artist, performer and writer whose practice combines sculpture, photomontage, film and sound. Gleaning the raw material of her work from the internet and books on natural sciences, Ntjam uses assemblage – of images, words, sounds, and stories – as a method to deconstruct the grand narratives underlying hegemonic discourses on origin, identity and race. Her work weaves multiple narratives drawn from investigations into historical events, scientific functions, or philosophical concepts, to which she confronts references to African mythology, ancestral rituals, religious symbolism and science-fiction. These apparently heterogeneous discourses and iconographies are marshaled together in an effort to re-appropriate History while speculating on not-yet-determined space-times – interstitial worlds where systems of perception and naming of fixed (id)entities no longer operate. From there, Ntjam composes utopian cartographies and ontological fictions in which technological fantasy, intergalactic voyages and hypothetical underwater civilisations become the matrix for a practice of emancipation that promotes the emergence of inclusive, processual and resilient communities.