The ICA has been a leading space for contemporary culture since 1946. They commission, produce and present new work in film, music, performance and the visual arts from their landmark home on The Mall in London; Inviting artists and audiences to interrogate what it means to live in today’s world, with a genre-fluid programme that challenges the past, questions the present and confronts the future.
The ICA is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. Exactly 75 years after a group of artists and poets founded the ICA as an alternative to the mainstream, they stand by a commitment to pave the way for the next generation: platforming a diversity of voices. The ICA continues to celebrate risk, champion innovation, and encourage experimentation across the art world – using what has become a playground and home for today’s most vital creatives.
Galleries – Moki Cherry: Now(Here)
Moki Cherry (1943 – 2009) was a Swedish interdisciplinary designer who worked in tapestry, fashion, painting, music, collage, woodwork and ceramics. She worked with materials that have a relationship to functionality, overlaid with larger themes of nature and spirituality. Moki portrayed her work-life balance as part of an inseparable aesthetic vision: using the ‘home as stage, and stage as home’. As a result, her pieces bled out of art galleries, being lived and experienced in the home, through music, and on theatre stages.
Roving between Europe and the US, the Cherrys developed a new approach to performance, taking concerts out of late-night jazz clubs and into galleries, schools and outdoor spaces. Moki produced the album covers, costumes and tapestries that were used as environments for these events – all in her signature psychedelic style. The enterprise, which fused eastern and western cultural traditions, was branded “Organic Music Theatre”. At one point, at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the whole family set up camp in a geodesic dome, where they held daily music workshops for three months in the summer of 1971. Moki, a practising Buddhist, painted a mandala on the floor over several days.
Don and Moki separated in the 1980s, but she continued living and working at a schoolhouse until her death in 2009. Her granddaughter, Neneh’s daughter Naima Karlsson, is now an administrator for the artist’s estate and director of the Cherry Archive; Leading her to co-curate the Institute of Contemporary Arts’ career-spanning survey of Moki Cherry’s life and work.
Performances – Sophia Giovannitti: Scorpion Frog
Sophia Giovannitti is a conceptual artist and writer based in New York. To mark the publication of Working Girl, she presents her performance-lecture Scorpion, Frog: drawing on cultural and political theory, as well as her own experiences as a sex worker and artist. She is joined by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance studies at the University of Warwick, Bryony White, for a discussion and Q&A.
Sex and art, are often described as two sacred spheres that ought to be kept separate from the marketplace. Yet both sustain two lucrative industries, built on the commodification of creativity, desire, authenticity and intimacy. In Working Girl Giovannitti argues for the refusal of moral outrage and legal regulation by suggesting a different route to a more autonomous life. She argues this through delving into our anxieties about art and sex.
Giovannitti studies the total commodification of the parts of ourselves that we hold dear – whether that be minds, hearts, or bodies – positing, from a materialist perspective, that there is no way out but through. Through her ongoing series of performance-based studies, beginning with Untitled (Incall), she attempts to re-choreograph traditional and traditionally shrouded modes of value extraction. Her work exists largely in the through-space of sale, scam, and reflection.
Screenings – Queer Art Projects: Lubunya Dispatches
Turkey is a unique spatial-temporal context to understand the development, and more recently the regression, of lubunya emancipatory politics and discourse; both in localised and globalised reams. Legally, the Republic never criminalised homosexuality in the country’s formative constitution, meaning that lubunya communities historically enjoyed a level of legislative sexual and gendered freedom throughout the 20th century ill-afforded to its European and North American counterparts until much later.
That withstanding, lubunya in contemporary Turkey have been unfavourably positioned and scapegoated against the hegemonic politics of the Turkish state. Particularly under the current leadership of the President Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP): projects of neoliberalisation have circulated that are rife with a dogma of religious moralisation to present lubunya communities as a pathological danger to the political, societal and economic advancement of Turkey.
As a result, lubunya have been increasingly subjected to extreme forms of violence and oppression in Turkey; last year alone saw a record-breaking number of arrests during Istanbul Pride march in June, and the “Big Family Gathering” that took place in September 2022, attended by 150 conservative non-governmental organisations across Turkey, calling on the government to close down all LGBTQ+ associations.
This intervention, titled LUBUNYA Dispatches, aims to draw solidarity and attention to such developments in Turkey by platforming the resistances that continue to persist despite such regressions. For its iteration at the ICA, LUBUNYA Dispatches presents a film programme and a series of off-events in the form of workshops and panels that construct dialogues among LGBTQI+ communities, unpacking the hierarchies and relationships of power that exist between the ‘divide and conquer’ approach of the State, towards and between the People.