Women on Aeroplanes: Inflight Magazine #4

Issue Four of the Women on Aeroplanes Inflight Magazine series, edited by Annett Busch and Marie-Hélène Gutberlet from the international curatorial team of the wider Women on Aeroplanes project.

This series of publications travels along the route of the unfolding international project. Experimenting with the format of an in-flight magazine, each issue becomes a light container for research-in-progress; at times a flying museum built upon each iteration of the project and connecting to the next. The issues continue to travel, wherever they are taken by participants and visitors.

Read Issue One here.
Issue Two here.
Issue Three here.

Issue Four launched at TOR Art Space, Frankfurt in the context of the Women on Aeroplanes: Zwischenlandung / Stopover, in June 2019.

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, Exalt B.H. 2018. Work in progress - mural on exterior of The Showroom. Photo: Daniel Brooke

About Women on Aeroplanes at The Showroom

3 October 2018 – 26 January 2019

What makes it possible for certain individuals’ stories to prevail, while others remain invisible, or disappear into oblivion? What are the intricacies of institutional or structural erasure? And how does the unveiling of such silenced narratives contribute to collective thinking?

The Showroom and The Otolith Collective raised these questions in a curatorial format in the London iteration of Women on Aeroplanes – an international multi-part research and exhibition project, which loosely borrows its title from the novel by Ghanaian writer Kojo Laing, and its ethos from his implosive deconstructed syntax.

The project included new work by artists Lungiswa Gqunta, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum and Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, and observes the largely unrecognised role of women in struggles for liberation, their participation in transatlantic networks, and their key voices in revolutionary socio-political movements that helped to achieve post-colonial nation-states in Africa.

Lungiswa Gqunta presented What songs will we sing when everything returns to us (2018), a sculptural installation conceived as a garden of exile, reflecting on the hardships endured by South Africans in exile. A new series of works on paper drew on her research into the uses of sound and song as modes of resistance in response to the often hidden structures of violence persisting as a result of the systemic legacies of colonialism. Created over the course of her residency at Gasworks (July-September 2018) these drawings consider the notation of western musical score in relation to free jazz, whilst meditating on the ways in which South African sound and song have been passed on through oral tradition in the contexts of protest and ritual. Together these works evoke an experience of collective resistance and history-telling through song, amidst a subtly violent terrain.

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum was commissioned to create a full-scale mural on The Showroom’s facade, for which she was inspired by South African writer Bessie Head (1937-1986). Head rejected the brutality of apartheid by exiling herself to the village of Serowe in Botswana. Titled Exalt B.H. Sunstrum’s mural enveloped the facade of The Showroom with a view of Serowe’s landscape dominated by an ever-present sky, a significant element in Bessie Head’s oeuvre. Weaving in and out of this expanse of blue are Head’s words from Earth and Everything: ‘I am building a stairway to the stars. I have the authority to take the whole of mankind up there with me. That is why I write.’

Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa used the gallery as both a repository for and as a space to reflect upon the research she has undertaken into the life and work of Amy Ashwood Garvey (1897-1969). Ashwood Garvey was (among many other things), Acting Chair of the historic 5th Pan-African Conference of 1945, co-founder of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), of the Nigerian Progress Union, the West African Students Union and the Notting Hill Carnival. She was also one of the most well-travelled and well-connected political activists of her generation. However her numerous and extraordinary achievements are only marginally acknowledged within official histories of anti-colonialism, pan-Africanism and feminism – in all of which she played a significant role.

In Carrying Yours and Standing Between You, Wolukau-Wanambwa presented the archive of material that she gathered throughout 2019; using selected texts, images and accounts of her own research experiences to draw out and reflect upon the many and varied mechanisms that have resulted in Ashwood Garvey’s historiographic marginality.

Curated by Emily Pethick and Elvira Dyangani Ose with The Otolith Collective (Kodwo Eshun, Anjalika Sagar and Hannah Liley).

Women on Aeroplanes forms part of an international project of the same name curated by Annett Busch, Marie-Hélène Gutberlet and Magda Lipska, coproduced by Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth and funded by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes). In collaboration with The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA, Lagos), ifa Gallery Berlin, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, The Showroom and The Otolith Collective, London.

The project at The Showroom was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and by the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

The project is also generously supported by Harry David and Mercedes Vilardell.


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