Study in Black Modernity, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
Study in Black Modernity
“Dutch artist Iris Kensmil has made a new work for the Van Abbemuseum’s collection. Kensmil combines abstract patterns, classical portraiture and references from politics and literature that resonate with her position as a Black artist.
The installation includes a series of publications from key figures within what Kensmil calls Black Modernity. All of these books are available to read in our Library. In the installation, these books are accompanied by a series of drawings, large and small, which reflect on the historic position of the back subject within emancipatory politics, art history, hiphop and the anti racist and Black Lives Matter protests which have recently gained increasing visibility and traction. For Kensmil her style of painting and use of portraiture has a specific function. By bringing them into the European art museum she gives Black individuals, who have had a formative historic role, their place in art history.
Study in Black Modernity was commissioned as part of Becoming More, a ten-day caucus event comprising lectures, performances, screenings, commissions, discussions and food hosted by the Van Abbemuseum. Kensmil has been invited along with other artists to develop and co-author the caucus. Drawing on previously neglected histories and generating new work with promising artists in the Netherlands stimulates the Van Abbe to take part in a broader dialogue as a catalyst for change. In this context Iris Kensmil has convened the programme of the opening on Thursday 18 May (lecture by Gloria Wekker) an the programme On experiences and Choices on Friday 19 May.”