Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix is pleased to present ‘Still unresolved and very much ongoing’, a selection of works by Delaine Le Bas (UK), Thierry Geoffroy (France/Denmark), Elsa M’bala (Cameroon/Germany), Gideon Mendel (South Africa/UK), and texts from Bakwa Magazine and its editor Dzekashu MacViban (Cameroon).

About the exhibition

Curated by Christine Eyene, this exhibition takes on the rhetoric of the importance of art ‘now more than ever’ – a discourse that gained currency on social media in the face of the crisis of humanism – to examine the relationship between the socio-political and aesthetics. Drawing from the British context as point of departure, the wave of exhibitions by Black British artists demonstrating the recurrence of the issues they addressed in the 1980s, and the continued relevance of their art to this day, this project is the result of ongoing conversations with artists who have always been alert to the fragility of democracies and concerned with the pockets of exclusions that exist in the so-called ‘Free World’.

“Still unresolved and very much ongoing” is a quote from an essay by British art historian Kobena Mercer entitled “Iconography after Identity” (2005) in which he discusses Black British Art and the importance and complexities of apprehending identity-based, and by extension socio-politically oriented art, through the prism of iconography and iconology. The exhibition title also reflects the current climate of surreal revival of past forms of prejudice and injustice thought to be eradicated but resurfacing like a societal necrosis.

The exhibition opens with ‘Rally welcoming SWAPO leader, Sam Nujoma, after thirty years’ exile’ (2016) from the ‘Damage’ series by Gideon Mendel, a rare large scale enlargement of a damaged negative of his 1980s coverage of the struggle against apartheid. The washed-out emulsion and the raised flags in this photographed political rally welcoming a South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) leader Sam Njoma after thirty years in exile, conjure up paintings such as Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ (1830). Presented for the first time will also be Mendel’s new series ‘Topographies’ (2017), documenting remnants of the forcibly evicted Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp. The photographed items, treading on the fine line between forensics, archaeology and still life, bear testimony to the lives denied their humanity by strands of Western society.

Delaine Le Bas’s textile-based work and her meticulously embroidered pieces speak from a British Romany perspective to champion freedom of movement and challenge land grabbing, borders, and European identity discourses.

Thierry Geoffroy’s new works on paper will be a direct take on global issues and media manipulation, while highlighting the limits of the contemporary art system as agent of social change.

Elsa M’bala audio experiments ‘Imposer le Savoir’ (2017) and ‘Je Wanda’ (2017) both address the legacy of European colonisation in Cameroon through language, reflecting the situation currently faced by Cameroon’s Anglophone communities who stood up against their marginalisation from the French-speaking ruling class.

Writings from Bakwa, an online magazine of literary and cultural criticism based in Yaounde, and excerpts from ‘Scions of the Malcontent’ (2011), a collection of poems by Bakwa editor Dzekashu MacViban will provide a textual resonance to M’Bala’s sound pieces.

For more information on artists Gideon Mendel, Delaine Le Bas, Thierry Geoffroy, Elsa M'bala and Bakwa Magazine, please go to the artist section.

In addition to the exhibition, two performances will be organised, both on Saturday 1st July. 'Critical Run' by Thierry Geoffroy will take place at 11am, and sound performance by Elsa M'bala in the evening. The latter is organised as part of the associate program for Art Night, when the gallery will be open till very late as many other galleries and art institutions in East London.

Exhibiting Artists

Bakwa Magazine and Dzekashu MacViban

Bakwa is a magazine of literary and cultural criticism based in Yaounde (Cameroon), which covers international cultural issues, as well as technology, business and politics. The magazine was founded in 2012 by Dzekashu MacViban, a writer and freelance journalist who focuses on the intersection between culture and technology. In 2011 MacViban published a collection of poems titled 'Scions of the Malcontent', and in 2012 he participated in the Kwani Literary Festival in Nairobi as part of the Moving Africa programme. After a one-year gig at the Ann Arbor Review of Books, he subsequently wrote for Goethe.de/kamerun and IDG Connect. His work has also featured in Wasafiri, Kwani and Fashizblack among other places and has been translated into Spanish, French, German and Japanese. In 2013 he curated the Cameroon leg of the Spoken word Project, organised by the Goethe-Institute Kamerun with which he continues to be involved in initiatives supporting young writers.


Thierry Geoffroy

Thierry Geoffroy, also known as Colonel, is a Danish-French artist living in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a conceptual artist using a wide variety of media including video and installations, often collaborating with other artists.

Geoffroy refers to his work as 'format art' since the format of the artwork is the artwork. In 1989 he wrote a manifesto on five types of moving exhibitions (Manifeste -- Les different Types de Moving Exhibitions). Since then he has worked on several other formats, his most famous being Emergency Room, which has tourd internationally and has been shown at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center New York (2007), Manifesta 8, Murcia (2008) Venice Biennale Maldives and Zimbabwe Pavilions (2013), and recently in Johannesburg and Cape Town (2015-2017). The formats generally involve many participants and are designed to investigate social psychology (e.g., conflicts, collaboration).


Delaine Le Bas

Delaine Le Bas is a British artist born in 1965. Her work addresses nationhood, land, belonging and gender from a British Romany perspective. She practices across diverse media including embroidery, painting, decoupage, sculpture, installations and performance that reflect domestic claustrophobia and the transient nature of modern materiality.

Le Bas has exhibited her works extensively both in the UK and abroad. In June 2007, her work was included in the first Roma Pavilion at 52nd Venice Biennale and the Prague Biennale. Since then she has continued participating in international events, including the 9th Gwangju Biennale (2011), National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare (2014), Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2015), and a number of UK venues.

Elsa M’Bala

Born in 1988 in Yaounde (Cameroon), Elsa M’Bala lives and works between Yaounde and Berlin. Elsa grew up in Cameroon then moved to Germany with her family in 1999 before relocating to Yaounde in 2012. After completing her studies in Social Sciences in Munster, she spent a few years traveling through Europe and was introduced to various artistic spheres. She began performing as a singer-songwriter, musician and poet before venturing into sound art in 2010.

Her work explores African and Cameroonian history and archive material. It addresses gender discourses and also pushes sonic experiments using both analogue instruments, traditional Cameroonian sonic heritage and technology including sound machines, the internet and digital culture.

Elsa M’bala is one of the few African female sound artists and the only artist of this genre in Cameroon. Her work was recently featured at Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brétigny and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (both 2017). She has also performed at Accra Street Festival, Accra (2015) and Bell Studio, Berlin (2013).

M'Bala will perform at the gallery for the occasion of Art Night, in the evening of Saturday, 1st of July 2017. The artist will perform a new piece showcasing her creative sound practice, using rich sonic material to explore the impact of the postcolonial linguistic legacy of colonisation on Cameroon and Africa today and how cultural fusions reflect on London’s diverse communities.

M'Bala will also perform at upcoming 'Sounds Like Her', curated by Christine Eyene at New Art Exchange, Nottingham and its UK touring (2017-2018).

Gideon Mendel

Gideon Mendel is a leading contemporary photographer, whose intimate style of image-making and long-term commitment to projects have earned him international recognition and many awards. He was the first recipient of the prestigious Pollock Prize for creativity (2016).

He is renowned for his work as a 'struggle photographer' during apartheid, and his 20-year photographic odyssey on the impact of HIV/AIDS. This project culminated with the publication in 2001 of his first book, 'A Broken Landscape: HIV & AIDS in Africa'.

Mendel has been occupied with 'Drowning World' since 2007, and art and advocacy project about flooding that is this personal response to climate change. His ;latest work documenting the Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp and its demolition through the objects left behind, injure up an archaeological process of recording a fast-changing present and his concern for registering the presence of those denied freedom of movement freedom to choose their home, and reinvent new rootedness.


Gideon Mendel is represented by Axis Gallery, New York.

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