This One Thing... The Inspiration Behind Frieze Show Manifold
When curating my Frieze exhibition Manifold, I was thinking about the idea of layers, about artwork that is complex in nature, about artists operating from a lens of openness and abundance. It turns out they were all Black women. That might have come from a point of personal bias, but it became central to the project.
I was inspired by Lubaina Himid’s curatorial exploits in the 1980s in London, when she organised a series of exhibitions featuring women of colour: Five Black Women at the Africa Centre in 1983, Black Women Time Now (1983-84) and The Thin Black Line at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in 1985. The show at the ICA took place in the corridors of the institute, as a reflection of the marginalisation of Black women in the art world. For me, it became even more important that the multiplicity of the Black female artist took centre stage – in a space that was ours to succeed and fail in.
As Manifold launches its second edition, the lens of abundance has come to mean something else. It extends to the viewer, to opening up and not pigeonholing artists. Sometimes, when exhibitions of artists of colour are arranged in European and North American contexts, their practices are placed in problematic contexts that directly relate them to whiteness. We neglect to look at the diversity of Black culture, of transatlantic dialogue, of Blackness in relation to Blackness. So, this exhibition is essentially 17 brilliant Black women from all over the world in conversation with each other, making diverse work and refusing to be the objects of simplistic interpretation.
Manifold is showing at Frieze No. 9 Cork Street, London until 29 April
Faridah Folawiyo is a curator and writer based between Lagos and London
Study II (Birthday Hair), Olukemi Lijadu (2022); Lovers Rock, Fadekemi Ogunsanya (2022); Hair Tiles Chop Chop, Joy Matashi (2021); Au Goûter, La Mangue, Rachel Marsil (2023); Untitled, Oluwatobiloba Ajayi (2022); Ao Ng Meme (Are You Not Inviting Me), Lebogang Mogul Mabusela (2023); An Old Remorse, Turiya Adkins (2022); ⓒ FF Projects