The Politics of Pleasure
Institute of Contemporary Arts
20 July – 8 September 2019

Courtesy of TONL, a creative company transforming stock photography by showcasing the diverse, positive and contemporary lives and identities of Black and brown people.

Building on ideas foregrounded at Fugitive Feminism in July 2018, The Politics of Pleasure is a series of Black feminist programmes exploring pleasure as a politics of refusal.

The project centres Black gender non-conforming, non-binary, trans and femme audiences and engages the research and practices of a pioneering group of visual artists, authors, DJ scholars, pleasure activists and other participants.

Interweaving installations, talks, performance-lectures, workshops and more, The Politics of Pleasure explores the intersections of pleasure with a range of topics including the politics of presence, power and the erotic and representations of Black female friendship.

The Politics of Pleasure Workshop (22 July 2018) investigated pleasure as fundamentally linked to Black women's humanity and generative of creativity and community. The Politics of Pleasure Family Reunion (20 July 2019) furthered explorations of pleasure in writing and movement and incorporated pleasure in food.

This series of programmes is curated by The Politics of Pleasure collective: Nydia A. Swaby and Rita Gayle with ICA Assistant Curator Ifeanyi Awachie.

Pleasure Genealogies

Pleasure Genealogies seeks to forge further connections between Black feminist practices, theories and art that investigate pleasure. Pleasure Genealogies looks to the Black feminist theorists who initially inspired The Politics of Pleasure Collective, including Gail Lewis, Joan Morgan and Audre Lorde, and to the inheritors of their legacies, including artist Davinia-Ann Robinson, author Bernardine Evaristo and DJ scholar Lynnée Denise. The programme is a response to the work of pleasure activist adrienne maree brown, who teaches Black women to trace lineages of personal pleasure by asking, ‘Who taught you to feel good?’ Pleasure Genealogies extends the energy, atmosphere and exploration of previous The Politics of Pleasure programmes.

Saturday 31 August, 1:00pm
A restorative studio session, led by artist Davinia-Ann Robinson, inviting women of colour to unlock a sense of agency through use of clay.

3 – 8 September
An installation by Davinia-Ann Robinson exploring power structures and pleasure, in accordance to women of colour and their relationship with pleasure.

Saturday 7 September, 1:00pm
Artist Davinia-Ann Robinson discusses her work, PLASTICISED SENSATION, an installation exploring pleasure and the structures of power surrounding the erotic for women of colour.

Saturday 7 September, 3:30pm
Bernardine Evaristo, discusses her newest novel, Girl, Woman, Other, and shares how to write about pleasure for women of colour.

Saturday 7 September, 7:00pm
Misery Resistance and Sonic Refusal
DJ Lynnée Denise discusses her signature ‘DJ Scholarship’ practice through case studies from the work of Toni Morrison and Saidiya Hartman.


Saturday 20 July 2019 
The Politics of Pleasure Family Reunion

An all-day event for Black women to explore pleasure as generative of creativity and community, and as fundamentally linked to their humanity. Featuring workshops by Ama Josephine Budge and Kelechi ‘Kelechnekoff’ Okafor, and a reading group hosted by sisterwoman vegan, the reunion builds on ideas shared in the 2018 Politics of Pleasure Workshop:

Saturday 20 July, 1:00pm 
Breathe. Speculate. Come. 
Ama Josephine Budge leads a workshop harnessing breath, free writing, mark-making and pleasure vocalisations to rest, resist, reimagine and rebuild.

Saturday 20 July, 4:00pm 
Reclaiming Pleasure Through Dance
Womanist fitness instructor Kelechi ‘Kelechnekoff’ Okafor leads a dance workshop and discussion exploring twerking as empowerment.

Saturday 20 July, 5:30pm 
The sisterwoman vegan Reading Group 
A curated library of influential Black literature and menu of small plates presented by soul food chef sisterwoman vegan.