In January 2018, Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse was temporarily removed as part of a gallery takeover by gallery staff, users and artists. This was part of a project with artist Sonia Boyce and also was part of the making of an artwork, Six Acts, showing in Boyce’s exhibition until 22 July. The painting was replaced by a series of questions to open debate about issues of gender, race and sexuality representation and ask questions about who decides what is shown and what stories are told in a public gallery.
This is the first in a series of free public events in response to the huge debate this action stimulated.
Artists, curators and the public: who decides what goes on display?
Dr David Dib...osa, Curating and Collections course leader at Chelsea College of Art and Black Artists and Modernism researcher, writer and curator Ellen Mara De Wachter, and members of the Manchester Art Gallery team present their thoughts on the inherited problems that exist in gallery collections and displays and discuss who might get to decide how gallery exhibitions might be made differently.
Please note this event will be live-streamed and recorded.
David Dibosa trained as a curator after receiving his first degree from Girton College, University of Cambridge. He was awarded his PhD in Art History from Goldsmiths College, University of London. During the 1990s, he curated public art projects. He is currently Course Leader for MA Curating and Collections at Chelsea College of Arts. He is also a Researcher in University of the Arts London's Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN). David has research interests in spectatorship, exhibitions, museums and curating, migration cultures and is part of Black Artists and Modernism (BAM), a three-year research project led by University of the Arts London (UAL) in partnership with Middlesex University, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). BAM will investigate the artworks of Black-British artists and the works’ relationship to modernism.
Ellen Mara De Wachter is a writer and curator based in London. She is a frequent contributor to Frieze magazine, and her writing has featured in exhibition catalogues and publications such as Mousse, Art Monthly, Art Review, Flash Art International, Garage, Art Quarterly, Elephant, The Quietus, and on BBC Radio 4.
Her book ‘Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration’, published by Phaidon, explores the phenomenon of collaboration in the visual arts and its potential in society at large.
De Wachter is a Visiting Lecturer in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, and has taught at the Royal Academy Schools, Goldsmiths College, Brighton University, Newcastle University among other places.
In 2013-15 she was Curator of Public Collection Development at the Contemporary Art Society, where she was responsible for CAS’s acquisitions scheme for museums across the UK. Prior to that, she worked at various arts organisations in London, including the Barbican Art Gallery and the British Museum.
Her recent Frieze article on galleries and activism references our recent project with Sonia Boyce: frieze.com/article/after-nymphs-painting-backlash-curatorial-activism-right-or-obligation