From December 2, 2022 to April 9, 2023, FACT Liverpool hosts a new show featuring commissions by artists Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley and Josèfa Ntjam.
The artists investigate how actions of resistance, rebuilding, and reimagining might lead to revolutionary new worlds by working across archives, maps, and video games. The show, which runs until spring 2023, is the final installment in FACT’s exploration of the idea of belonging, Radical Ancestry.
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley has been working with a group of young people from Liverpool called “The Bandidos” since February 2022. When Our Worlds Meet (2022) begins with three basic questions: how would you redesign Liverpool for your community? What does your world require? And what are the rules in your world?
Brathwaite-Shirley creates artwork that preserves the stories of Black trans individuals and communities who are often underserved. She brings The Bandidos’ inventive fantasies to life here, creating a video game that can be explored online and through four zones within the gallery.
Visitors emerge into the remains of a suburban street after passing through a bus shelter that displays a set of terms and conditions. Lampposts, buildings, and public spaces have been hacked and changed into the architecture of a new planet, which is being watched over from above by avatars representing project participants.
The large-scale project fosters discovery and learning by creating a space that reshapes the norms and systems that structure our lives, prompting participants to explore how we live together, how we represent ourselves, and how others see us.
Josèfa Ntjam is an artist, writer, and performer who works in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, photomontage, video, and sound. Ntjam presents When the Moon Dreamed of the Ocean, an immersive installation (2022). The exhibition features new sculptures from her Metamorphosis (2019-present) series as well as her film Dislocation (2022).
The gallery is changed into an aquatic cave filled with legendary emblems and symbols of resistance and caring, including jellyfish, plankton, and rock pools. Ntjam’s practice intertwines research from archives, African mythology, and counter-culture to challenge generally accepted Western narratives about origin, identity, and classification systems.
Ntjam’s work encourages alternative interpretations of history, with influences ranging from jazz artist Sun Ra’s galactic mythic future to the siren goddess Mami Wata and the speculative underwater civilisations popularized by Detroit techno duo Drexyia. These stories of survival, according to Ntjam, offer methods to reimagine the aftermath of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade through new kinds of knowledge and connections.
Ntjam presents alternate ways of navigating through the flows of the past by establishing parallels between natural processes and human experience, ultimately revealing how spaces of solidarity and revolution may exist in even the most hostile settings.
Brathwaite-Shirley and Ntjam both create experiences that situate people whose stories are frequently mismanaged or ignored. Their immersive installations feature deeply layered works that investigate erasure and the collaborative mechanisms used by communities to counteract it.
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley & Josèfa Ntjam is now open at FACT Liverpool until April 9, 2023. The free exhibition will be accompanied by a public programme of events including artist talks, curator tours and family workshops.