Rose Finn-Kelcey, Divided Self (Speaker’s Corner), 1974. Courtesy and copyright the Estate of Rose Finn-Kelcey
On Allyship presents sound installation Truth, Dare, Double-Dare (1994) by artists Rose Finn-Kelcey and Donald Rodney, coupled with a conversation between disability activists David Ruebain and Lela Kogbara about allyship, commitment, intersectional and diverse identity politics, and working together.
First shown at Ikon Gallery, Truth, Dare, Double-Dare is a personal exchange that navigates the raw and often painful process of artistic collaboration. For this event, a play-through of Truth, Dare, Double-Dare is followed by a conversation between Ruebain and Kogbara, who respond to the work via the context of their own long-term friendship. This is a public continuation of an ongoing conversation about allyship which Ruebain and Kogbara have been having for ten years as part of what they describe as their ‘commitment to one another’.
On Allyship is part of an ongoing programming collaboration presented by artist Leah Clements with the ICA, which examines how we might re-imagine institutions from a ‘crip’ position. On Allyship is preceded by On Cripping
and Disability and Interdependence
, also programmed with Leah Clements. This series of discussions and artistic presentations is rooted in the artist’s interest in developing a critical language for – and practical changes to – working relationships between artists and arts organisations from a ‘crip’ position. The term ‘crip’ describes a necessarily political position on illness and disability. It subscribes to the social model of disability, which states that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person's impairment or difference, and looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people.
Intro from Leah Clements: 6.30pm
Play-through of Truth, Dare, Double-Dare: 6.35 – 7.30pm
15 min. break: 7.30 – 7.45pm
Conversation between David & Lela: 7.45 – 8.30pm
Audience questions and open discussion: 8.30 – 9pm
Thanks to Andrée Cooke and the estate of Rose Finn-Kelcey, and to Diane Symons and the estate of Donald Rodney.
Leah Clements is an artist whose practice is concerned with the relationship between the psychological, emotional and physical, often through personal accounts of experiences of unusual, odd or hard-to-articulate forms of consciousness. Recent work has also focused on sickness/cripness/disability in art, in critical and practical ways, including the online resource Access Docs for Artists, made in collaboration with Lizzy Rose and Alice Hattrick. Exhibitions, residencies, performances, screenings and other events include: Artist in residence, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge; I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Matèria Gallery, Palermo; Jerwood Staging Series – Sophie Hoyle, Chronica, London; Artist in residence, Rupert, Vilnius; Skin of the Eye – Act II, Vermilion Sands, Copenhagen; and HereNow, Space, London (all 2018), and the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary Shortlist Exhibition, Baltic 39, Newcastle upon Tyne (2019).
Rose Finn-Kelcey (1945 – 2014) was a British artist, born in Northampton, who lived and worked in London from 1968. Finn-Kelcey worked in a variety of media including performance, video, sound, installation, sculpture, photography, papercut and posters. Finn-Kelcey’s work in the late 1960s and 1970s emerged alongside that of increasing numbers of artists concerned with formal experimentation and conceptual practices. Several of the early works consisted of making and flying flags in publicly visible spaces. Finn-Kelcey’s work was also engaged in dialogues surrounding social liberation movements during this time. A comprehensive monograph of her work was published by Ridinghouse in 2013.
Lela Kogbara came to the UK with her family as a refugee from the Biafran War. Most of her professional life and voluntary activity has involved tackling inequality in some form or other. Lela is a qualified accountant and was a senior manager in the public sector for 25 years. She worked for Islington Council as Assistant Chief Executive from 2005 –16, after which she did part-time consultancy work for the NHS and the Department for Education to improve employment prospects and access to apprenticeships for people with learning and other disabilities. Lela is now volunteering and doing her Masters with Black Thrive, a partnership between people, organisations and public services which takes a systematic, place-based approach to reducing mental health inequalities for black communities in Lambeth.
Born in 1961 in Birmingham, Donald Rodney first achieved visibility as part of The Blk Art Group in the early 1980s. During that decade, he went on to become a key figure within the broad alliance of artists which came to be known as The Black Art Movement. In the following years, his wide-ranging practice came to defy simple categorisation both thematically and through Rodney’s innovative approach to materials and technical processes. His work became increasingly politicised, appropriating images from the mass media, art and popular culture to explore issues associated with history, representation, masculinity and the pernicious nature of racism. He later became interested in examining his experience of sickle cell anaemia, which he used as a metaphor for wider social and political ills in contemporary society.
David Ruebain is Chief Executive of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama and Visiting Professor of Law at Birkbeck, University of London. Previously, he was Chief Executive of Equality Challenge Unit (the UK higher education sector’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy and research agency), Director of Legal Policy at the British government's Equality and Human Rights Commission, and founder of the Department of Education, Equality and Disability Law at Levenes Solicitors in London. David has published and taught widely.