Dream. Snap. Freedom: Radical Play Through Photography

This exhibition was created from my final project of my Masters Degree at CSM with Four Corners Gallery; through various avenues of activism and research from Four Corners archive, I came to focus on radical play through photography and film. This was during the pandemic and the beginning of the BLM rallies for George Floyd. My research was formed on the basis of three main pillars of identity politics; anti-racism, LGBTQ+ and feminism. Focusing on identity rights, equality and social justice for race, gender and sexuality. 

The project outcome looked at the parallels between four exhibitions from the Four Corners archive: Same Difference, Peace of the Action, Our Space in Britain and Brick Lane 1978 and a new generation of photographers and artists; University of the Arts London graduates Isobel Van Dyke, Victoria Vorobeva and Terrence Phearse, and the Royal College of Arts graduate Sissel Kärneskog, plus selected works from writer/filmmaker Ed Webb-Ingall and photographers Sebastian Barros and JC Verona. 

The research for Four Corners was during the beginning of the BLM rallies earlier this year, after a couple of us in London attended one in Hyde Park, we were interested in the validating feelings of joy and solidarity we felt and saw around us, but was never mentioned in the mass media coverage. After our intensive research days on the several different types of activism; protest, hacktivism etc, we found further, more playful ways of activism that struck a chord; routes such as fashion activism, craftivism and dancing in the name of freedom. We found a book on ‘Pleasure Activism’ by Adrienne Maree Brown 2019, who talks about making justice and liberation the most pleasurable experiences we can have and learning that pleasure and play gets lost under the weight of oppression, and it is liberatory work to reclaim it. Brown echoes the sentiments of Audre Lorde; that marginalised identities settle for suffering and self-negation because of oppression. 

“Pleasure is a measure of freedom”

Adrienne Maree Brown

Radical play refers to an avenue of activism that prioritises joy and solidarity. Examples like Notting Hill Carnival, the Pride Festival, and other events where dancing, dressing up, taking up space and celebrating an identity that has otherwise been oppressed, offer another view of activism, that is often excluded from mass media coverage.

Take a look at the online exhibition with talks over zoom here.

Take a look at our dossier here, which outlines the hardships faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition from physical to digital exhibition, while our group worked together through transnational time zones and a worldwide pandemic. We are proud to have turned this ambitious passion project into an online reality.

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