iQhiya @ Transmission Gallery, Glasgow
South African collective iQhiya's Glasgow International exhibition is a DIY-feeling show that considers the histories and reality of poor representation of black womxn artists across the Glasgow cultural scene and beyond.
iQhiya’s site specific performance, digital and text works are in direct dialogue with the conventional white-walled contemporary art space of Transmission Gallery. iQhiya, a collective of black womxn (a more inclusive term for female identifying individuals) artists from South Africa directly address the whiteness and privilege of the cultural scene through their (in places, literal) amplification of colonised and marginalised voices of womxn along with non binary, genderqueer, transgender persons.
Their work reflects on women of colour and their role in Scotland’s artistic, social and political history through a recorded conversation of a dinner event that took place in the three hours preceding the opening of the exhibition on the first Friday of Glasgow International, centred round a large yellow-clothed table that remains in the space along with leftovers of the meal. The invited peers have now left and only their voices and words written on the adjacent wall remain, yet they are still powerful and the focus of attention. You are encouraged to listen, question and stand on the periphery understanding that it is their voices that are meant to be heard. In contrast, the audience is then drawn into the dark space downstairs where there is a more meditative video installation on the movement of braided hair by the artist Tshiamo Naledi Letlhogonolo Pinky Mayeng, one of iQhiya’s own who passed away in August.
Throughout the show there is a DIY party aesthetic – see for instance the hand cut conversations via social media printed and attached to the aspect windows. Participants have to spend time in the space, revisiting to fully read the chaotic text and gather a full understanding of the historic narrative.
As Transmission’s Glasgow International project, the iQhiya project continues the gallery’s efforts to draw attention to the need for better representation within Glasgow’s art scene. iQhiya’s work may be this generation’s The Dinner Party and a true narrative of new art which is emerging outwith the classist and male-dominated 'contemporary art' world. [Kirsten Millar]