Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, When Our Worlds Meet, 2022. Installation view, FACT Liverpool, Liverpool, UK, 2022. Photo: Rob Battersby.
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley & Josèfa Ntjam
December 2, 2022–April 9, 2023
88 Wood Street
Liverpool L1 4DQ United Kingdom
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–6pm
FACT Liverpool presents a new exhibition featuring commissions by artists Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley & Josèfa Ntjam. Working across archives, maps and video games, the artists consider how acts of resistance, rebuilding and reimagining can lead to transformative new worlds. The exhibition runs until spring 2023 and is the final instalment of Radical Ancestry, FACT’s exploration into the sense of belonging.
Since February 2022, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley has worked with a group of young people from Liverpool, self titled “The Bandidos.” The project, culminating in the production of When Our Worlds Meet (2022), began with three simple questions: how would you redesign Liverpool for your community? What does your world need? And, what rules does your world have?
Throughout her practice, Brathwaite-Shirley creates artwork that archives the experiences of Black trans people and communities who can be otherwise underserved. Here, she brings to life The Bandidos' imaginative visions, developing a video game that can be explored online and through four zones inside the gallery.
Passing through a bus shelter displaying a set of terms and conditions, visitors emerge onto remnants of a suburban street. Lamp posts, buildings and public spaces have been hacked and transformed into the architecture of a new world, watched over from above by avatars representing the project participants.
The large-scale installation encourages exploration and learning: a space that offers a reshaping of the rules and systems that frame our lives and prompts players to consider how we live together, how we represent ourselves, and how others receive us.
Artist, writer and performer Josèfa Ntjam works across a wide range of mediums, combining sculpture, photomontage, film and sound. Ntjam presents an immersive installation titled, When the moon dreamed of the ocean (2022). The exhibition centres around her film, Dislocation (2022), and includes new sculptures as part of her Metamorphosis (2019-present) series.
Strewn with jellyfish, plankton and rock pools, the gallery is transformed into a watery cave filled with mythological icons and symbols of resistance and care. Through her practice, Ntjam looks at ways to reject widely accepted Western narratives around origin, identity and systems of classification by intertwining research of archives, African mythologies and counter-culture.
Ntjam’s work promotes alternate readings of history, with references spanning the galactic mythic future of jazz composer Sun Ra, the siren goddess Mami Wata, and the speculative underwater civilisations popularised by Detroit techno duo Drexyia. For Ntjam, these tales of resilience offer ways to rethink the aftermath of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade, through new forms of knowledge and connections.
By drawing parallels between natural processes and human experience, Ntjam offers alternative ways of navigating through the flows of the past, ultimately demonstrating how spaces of solidarity and revolution can thrive in even the most inhospitable conditions.
Both Brathwaite-Shirley & Ntjam conjure experiences that reposition those whose stories are often mishandled or underserved. Their immersive installations present richly layered works that explore erasure, and the collaborative processes built by communities in defiance of this.
Maitreyi Maheshwari, Head of Programme at FACT, said: “The final chapter in our Radical Ancestry programme presents two new works that imagine spaces for our future selves. Grounded in ideas of resilience and change, they share worlds in which the archives of the past and present include the stories and experiences of those most often overlooked, to create fantastical hybrid lifeforms and architectures that flow in and out of our linear perception of time.”
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley & Josèfa Ntjam is now open at FACT Liverpool until April 9, 2023. The free exhibition will be accompanied by a public programme of events including artist talks, curator tours and family workshops.