you feel me_ / FACT LIVERPOOL
Write-up-review and photos by Krystle Amoo
"Everything you can imagine is real." Pablo Picasso
I had the privilege of attending the pre-launch of the you feel me_ exhibition at FACT Liverpool, yesterday. Two captivating visual rooms that are previewing an alternative world where social constructs are dismantled. The cleverly curated exhibition by Helen Starr, you feel me_ explores and deconstructs power, in a way that allows the viewers to question who are the implementors and where does accountability lie. In parallel to this, we also get to see the perspective of how the oppressed navigate through these structures and find healing through one's imagination. The gallery space is reflective of coming together, a world where everyone's story has room to be heard without drowning out another. The bells of Phoebe Collings-James's installation, in harmony with Rebecca Allen's digital video sound – housed in the dark evokes calmness and the restoration of peace within. A contradiction to the world I had just stepped out of upon entering FACT.
Being a black woman, I wanted to reflect on the daily social prejudice I face before I entered, and the three main perpetrating systems that cause friction in my growth are Racism, Sexism and Colonialism. Therefore, I found myself deeply connected to these artists, in particular, Phoebe Collings-James, Salma Noor and Brandon Covington Sam-Sumana. Although all installations were equally as powerful, these three artist got me thinking and feeling.
Throughout the exhibition, Salma Noor's delicate contribution of deconstructed images guides us. The images comprised of her family and other historical people of colour. Being a part of the diaspora, I have found it very difficult to belong and feel at home. Especially when it comes to visual representation, the west hasn't been inclusive in documenting our contribution. Seeing the images on the wall was empowering and brought new meaning to what it means to be African and dispersed.
Continuing through the exhibition, the hypnotic bells chiming while stood amongst the hoods resonated with me. The motion of Phoebe's head with her restless hands and expressions I witnessed on the digital screen, was symbolic of black women's struggle. Daily we are asked to perform in a white world; we have to battle social norms that are designed, so that we fall short each time – an exhausting process and yet through rituals (like the bells ringing) and resilience we repair and heal to reclaim our liberation.
Brandon's work organically follows Phoebe's collection, which I felt was fitting as Covington Sam-Sumana explores accountability and the importance of ownership. For me, this is an area that is normally cloaked in fragility. Society's oppressors are not very forthcoming in taking responsibility, for censoring and revising stories that could rebirth a new world perspective. Tools such as religion, curriculum and even Art, have been used as a method of control and power. Brandon's installation Life is…Grand II: Anatomy of Apology, uses Mesh's book Jus Wanna leave This Ni**a to get this point across wittily. It's a story about a woman who is struggling in her marriage to an abusive womaniser. Showing that true liberation is achieved when we can tell and write our own stories and bring into fruition a world that allows us to present ourselves the way we want to be seen. The beauty in this work for me was the opportunity for reparation, the hope for forgiveness and bringing light to how powerful an apology can be. It’s not in the way of highlighting the wrong, but to educate, Brandon concludes with a boldly placed document on the wall with a suggestive list of ways to apologise.
you feel me_ is a must-see, a safe space for people yearning change and new world order. Through different forms of creativity, collectively, this exhibition encourages healing and critical thinking, both of which are needed to revolt systemic prejudices that uphold power and abuse.
Go and check it out 01/11/2019 - 23/02/2020 at FACT Liverpool.
Tuesday- Sunday 11:00- 18:00 Free entry