In Praise of Black Errantry

In Praise of Black Errantry

UNIT

March 19, 2024
In Praise of Black Errantry
April 17–June 29, 2024
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Preview: April 17, 9–11am, reception 8pm–1am, both by invitation only
Palazzo Pisani S. Marina
Calle de le Erbe, 6104
30121 Venice
Italy
unitlondon.com
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“Errantry is a poetics.” — Édouard Glissant

Unit, the London-based gallery, presents In Praise of Black Errantry, a group exhibition that celebrates the Black radical imagination during the 60th Venice Biennale. In Praise of Black Errantry is inspired by the Martinique-born French writer and philosopher Édouard Glissant (1928–2011), who proposed errantry as a form of freedom and resistance, evoking a spiritual or purposeful wandering beyond national borders or the limits of exile. As a mode of survival, errantry infers fugitivity as well as improvisation. Underlying the emergence of Black modernity, errantry has engendered the dissonance of jazz, the politics of refusal, and ultimately, revolution. 

The Afro-diasporic artists in this exhibition take up errantry as a radical strategy that defies boundaries, advocating spontaneity and experimentation beyond cultural fixity or political containment. Spanning different themes, the exhibition considers how artists have refuted conventional codes of representation or pushed against the constraints of formal rules of style, colour, medium, or genre. 

The poetics of errantry offers a counter-discourse about Black cultural production, raising critical questions: how has errantry been employed aesthetically and politically as a form of Black dissent? How do incidental encounters of the itinerant or the arbitrary inform technical and formal innovations as well as other artistic freedoms? How do the terms of disobedience and waywardness figure in the art of the Black diaspora?

Curated by Indie A. Choudhury (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London), In Praise of Black Errantry brings together 19 modern and contemporary Afro-diasporic artists featuring newly commissioned works by Stacey Gillian Abe, Winston Branch, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Rachel Jones, Hilda Kortei, Sola Olulode, Anya Paintsil, and Charmaine Watkiss alongside works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Phoebe Boswell, Adelaide Damoah, Paul Dash, Miranda Forrester, Claudette Johnson, Keith Piper, Hank Willis Thomas, and Joy Yamusangie. The exhibition also presents a new site-specific sound installation by Trevor Mathison (Dubmorphology and Black Audio Film Collective). 

The accompanying exhibition catalogue includes contributions by the curator Indie A. Choudhury; artist Jonathan Lyndon Chase; award-winning poet Roger Robinson; and Robert G. O’Meally, the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

With special thanks to Company Gallery, DC Moore Gallery, Felix & Spear, Pace Gallery, the Romare Bearden Foundation, Sapar Contemporary, Sheffield Museums, Tiwani Contemporary, Varvara Roza Galleries, and private lenders including Sonia Johnson-Brown and Thaddaeus Ropac.

In Praise of Black Errantry marks Unit’s inaugural presentation during the Venice Biennale, as part of the gallery’s commitment to research-led initiatives that nurture artists and contribute to contemporary cultural discourse beyond conventional programming structures.

Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm. Curated by Indie A. Choudhury / Assistant curator, Kelsey Corbett.

About the curatorial team 
Indie A. Choudhury
is an art historian and curator. As Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art, she specialises in the art, literary, and sonic cultures of the Black Atlantic. The assistant curator Kelsey Corbett is the Head of Research and Programme Curator at Unit, where she instigated an online project looking at the aftermath of the British Empire.

About the gallery 
Unit is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of creativity as a fundamental human force. The gallery’s mission is to identify and maximise the reach and impact of gifted artists by engaging new audiences and increasing accessibility to their work. Headquartered in Mayfair, London, the gallery has been responsible for developing the careers of numerous important international contemporary artists. 

Media enquiries 
Richelle Zakrzewski, Head of Communications & PR, Unit, press [​at​] unitlondon.com.

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March 19, 2024

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