The VCU Department of Sculpture + Extended Media is pleased to present PERFORMING HISTORY, a series of events that bring together contemporary Black artists for a robust discussion of identity by looking at art that modifies, plays with, and reframes the historical record through object making and performance.  Invited artists include the London-based artist and author Samson Kambalu, and the New York-based artists Sable E. Smith and Steffani Jemison.

On Thursday, March 23rd, the artists will each deliver an artist talk on their individual studio practice, followed by the reception for a related exhibition of undergraduate student work and performances. On Friday, March 24th, the artists will take part in a panel discussion hosted by VCU Sculpture faculty Massa Lemu and featuring VCU Sculpture Fountainhead Fellow Ilana Harris-Babou.

Thursday March 23rd

Visiting Artist Lectures 2-6pm VCUarts Depot 814 West Broad St.
Steffani Jemison
Sable E. Smith
Samson Kambalu

Exhibition Reception 6-8pm VCU Fine Arts Building 1000 West Broad St.
Mahari Chabwera
Noah Hook
Joy McMillain
Lisa Park
Lindsay Parnell
Brianna Perry
Aki Vander Laan
Grace Whiteside

Friday March 24th

Panel Discussion with the Artists 2-4pm VCUarts Depot 814 West Broad St.
Steffani Jemison
Sable E. Smith
Samson Kamblu
Ilana Harris-Babou
hosted by Massa Lemu

Artist Bios:

Steffani Jemison uses time-based, photographic, and discursive platforms to examine “progress” and its alternatives. Jemison’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work has been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, The Drawing Center, LAXART, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, Bridget Donahue, Laurel Gitlen,Team Gallery, and others. Her work is in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Kadist Foundation. Jemison was born in Berkeley, California, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009) and a BA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University (2003). She has served as a visiting artist at many institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Hampshire College, the Evergreen State College, and Georgia State University. She has taught fine art at Columbia University, Parsons The New School for Design, Wellesley College, Trinity College, Rice University, the Cooper Union, and other institutions. She is the 2016-2017 Arthur J. Levitt ’52 Artist-in-Residence at Williams College.

Samson Kambalu.  The London based artist and author Samson Kambalu, born in 1975 in Malawi, studied at the University of Malawi (BA Fine Art and Ethnomusicology, 1995-99); Nottingham Trent University (MA Fine Art, 2002-03) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (PhD, 2011 – 15). He has shown his work around the world, including Dakar Biennale (2014, 2016), Tokyo International Art Festival (2009) and the Liverpool Biennial (2004, 2016). He has won research fellowships with Yale University and Smithsonian Institution and was included in All the World’s Futures, Venice Biennale 2015, curated by Okwui Enwezor. Kambalu works in a variety of media, including sitespecific installation, video, performance and literature. His work is autobiographical and approaches art as an arena for critical thought and sovereign activities.

Sable E. Smith is an interdisciplinary artist and writer based in New York. Her practice considers memory and trauma while enacting an undoing of language. She works from the archive of her own body creating new syntax for knowing and not knowing, thereby marking the difference between witnessing and watching. To see is unbearable. She has performed at the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, Eyebeam, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. Her work has also been screened at Birkbeck Cinema in collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries, London, Artist Television Access, San Francisco, and MoMA Ps1, New York. Her writing has been published in Radical Teacher, Studio Magazine and No Tofu Magazine and she is currently working on her first book. Smith has received grants & fellowships from Creative Capital, the Queens Museum, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Franklin Furnace Fund, and Art Matters. She is currently part-time faculty at Parsons The New School for Design.

Illana Harris-Babou was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She makes videos, sculptures, and installations that use cooking shows and music videos as tools to ask questions about intimacy, violence and consumption.  Harris-Babou received a BA in Art from Yale University in 2013, and an MFA from Columbia University in 2016. She has exhibited at the Jewish Museum in NYC, Judith Charles Gallery in NYC, FJORD in Philadelphia, PA, Artspace in New Haven, CT & Le Doc in Paris, France, among others. She has had solo exhibitions at Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia, PA and the Broad Street Gallery in Hartford, CT. She is the 2016-17 Fountainhead Fellow in the VCU Department of Sculpture + Extended Media.

Massa Lemu. Malawian born artist Massa Lemu is a visual artist and writer whose multi-disciplinary artistic practice takes the form of drawing, performance, and multimedia installations that are concerned with the contradictions of migration within globalization and the effects of an increasingly immaterialized, flexible and mobile capitalism on the post-colonial subject.  Lemu’s text-based work features techniques such as quotation and détournment to tap on the critical possibilities of the polyglot nature of communication in postcoloniality.  As a writer, Lemu’s scholarly interests lie in what he calls a biopolitical collectivism in contemporary African art, i.e. a socially engaged, subject-centered, and life-forming collectivist aesthetics.  His writing has been published by the Stedelijk Studies Journal,  E-Flux, Center for Contemporary  Art Lagos and Contemporaryand (C&). Lemu was a Critical Studies Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from 2010 to 2012 where he is researched and wrote about contemporary African art. Lemu is currently researching on the biopolitics of contemporary African art collectives as a PhD student at University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Lemu is Associate Professor in the Department of Sculpture + Extended Media.

These events have been generously funded by the VCUarts Inclusion Infusion Initiative.