Acclaimed filmmaker and activist Ava DuVernay is partnering with Signature African Art to present a two-part exhibition of work by African artists reflecting on the Black diaspora in Europe and America. Say My Name — a reference to #SayHerName, the 2014 movement to amplify the names of Black female victims of police violence — will open in London in October and in February 2021 in Los Angeles, coinciding with Black History Month in the UK and US.
Of the proceeds from sales of the works, 40% will benefit DuVernay’s Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP), launched this year to document stories of police abuse through different art forms, including film, literature, poetry, theatre, dance, fine art and music.
Many of the paintings and sculptures included in Say My Name will recognize both eminent Black activists as well as Black people who lost their lives to police brutality — from a portrait of civil rights advocate Angela Davis by artist Dennis Osakue, known for his photorealistic depictions; to a nine-panel ode to George Floyd by Nigerian artist Oluwole Omofemi, referencing the approximate nine minutes that former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.
“Art is a disruptive and propulsive force. Creative expression is one of the most powerful tools that we can employ to activate and ignite change,” DuVernay said in a statement about the exhibition.
DuVernay, the first Black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director and the first to win the Sundance Film Festival’s directing award, is known for numerous works that examine the past and present of racism in America. Her 2016 documentary film 13th plumbs the intertwined histories of slavery and mass incarceration; When They See Us, her most recent Netflix miniseries, exposes the wrongful conviction of a group of young boys of color known as the “Central Park Five” in 1989.
“We are excited for our artists to have the platform to express their feelings and opinions,” said Signature African Art director Khalil Akar, who is curating both iterations of the show.
“The exhibition covers a diverse range of issues, and truth be told there are still so many stories and issues we need to address, which we will be hoping to do in our future shows,” he added. “This is a wonderful opportunity to have African artists speak out and connect issues arising in the USA, Europe and Africa.”
The London exhibition will include works by artists Samson Akinnire, Moufouli Bello, Dandelion Eghosa, Taiye Erewele, Giggs Kgole, Djakou Nathalie, Anthony Nsofor, Adjaratou Ouedraogo, Demola Ogunajo, Ayanfe Olarinde, Oluwole Omofemi, Dennis Osakue, and Ejiro Owigho.
Say My Name opens at Signature African Art (20 Davies St, Mayfair, London W1K 3DT) on October 27 and will run through November 28, 2020.