[Exhibition] Get Up Stand Up Now at Somerset House, London

Get Up Stand Up Now is a beautifully configured exhibition, at Somerset House, of Black diasporic art from the past and present. Curated by British visual artist Zak Ové, the exhibition takes up fifteen or so rooms and corridors in Somerset House’s west wing. Sectioned into seven themes, Get Up Stand Up Now explores topics of Black identity, Black collective struggles and Black Futures.

The exhibition begins on an intimate note as Ové walks us through the work and personal effects of his filmmaker father, Horace Ové, and combines this with contemporary artworks from global artist such as Nari Ward's 'Canned Smiles' sculpture, Richard Mark Rawlins' 'Empowerment' digital print and Hank Willis-Thomas ’Freedom isn't always beautiful'. As the exhibition proceeds, the themed rooms encourage a broader consideration of blackness then that of resistance and struggle. One room, fitted with a disclaimer, explored the intersection of race, gender and sexuality and contained works by artists like Campbell Addy's 'Engender', Phoebe Boswell's video piece ' I Need to Believe the World is still Beautiful' and self-portrait photography by Ajamu. In closing, Get Up Stand Up Now offers up Afrofuturistic art, where Zak Ové's own work sat well within. Other stand out artists found in this section included Nick Cave, Zanele Muholi, Lina Iris Viktor, Alexis Peskine, Grace Wales Bonner and videos by Larry Achiampong and Helen Cammock (shown in the screening room).

Black Britain’s distinct history definitely takes pride of place in the exhibition and is beautifully showcased in images of Windrush arrivals, the late theorists C. L. R. James taken by Horace Ové and other Black British civil rights activists. One exhibition room, colourfully furnished, provided a trip into Black Britain’s early music scenes. Mixing sculpture art, photographs of Lovers Rock, Reggae and neo-soul artists and events with artifacts like a leather Soul II Soul bomber jacket and old music equipment and tape cassettes.

The exhibition is running till September 15th 2019 and is being accompanied by a summer long program of cultural events, in Somerset House’s court yard. 


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