Born in Wembley, British-Ghanaian writer and curator Ekow Eshun has a dizzying list of contemporary art names on his CV. He is one of the only people from Brent who has written extensively about their experiences growing up in the borough.
“Brent is intensely multicultural and it taught me, from the get go, this is how it’s supposed to be. This is how it is. That Brent isn’t owned by any single set of people. Brent is about all of us. For better or for worse.”
Ekow talks to Blueprint Collective Member Kes Eccleston, diving into growing up in 70s Britain, struggling to find a way not to be defined by other’s expectation and prejudice and putting Black visual culture at the heart of his art exhibitions.
“The ordinary, every day struggle for me was to find a way to be me and a way not to be defined by the experience, expectation or prejudice of all these other people around me.”
“I try and find ways to bring together work by Black artists and to offer a context for them that hopefully allows more people to look at each piece of work and understand it or engage with it for itself. And also engage with it in a larger way of looking at the world.”
Former Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Ekow takes us back to his realisation at Brent Town Hall Library that personal identity could be a bridge to understanding the world in a more sophisticated and profound way.
“It genuinely blew my mind because it seemed to sum up everything I’d experienced before and put that in the context of a much longer historical analysis, but also an analysis of cultural identity with a level of depth, insight and critical rigour that I’d never experienced.”
How have Brent’s legends been coping during the ongoing pandemic, and what might it mean for their work and practice?
In this new video series, guest hosts from the Blueprint Collective catch up – in a socially distanced way, of course – with legendary musicians, artists, athletes and activists from across the borough to find out how they’ve been affected and perhaps even inspired by the COVID-19 crisis. Along the way, we dig deeper into our guests’ connections to Brent, discovering what they’ve been reading, watching, hearing and absorbing during this strange and frightening time – and hearing more about how they’re responding.
This forms part of Brent 2020 Unlocked.