Thinkers In Residence: Barby Asante, 2003/2004

As Thinker in Residence Barby Asante is focusing on questions of the possibilities of Live Art for artists from culturally diverse backgrounds and in particular, how the Live Art Development Agency can creatively develop its approach to working with artists from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Live Art has proved to be a particularly potent arena for artists from culturally diverse backgrounds who may have been marginalised within dominant cultural traditions in Britain. Live Art offers new languages to play with the cultural and social influences that inform us, to articulate new forms of identity and representation and to create new cultural landscapes. For artists engaged with issues of identity and cultural difference, Live Art is an articulate platform to challenge post colonial narratives.

However, we are increasingly concerned that artists from culturally diverse backgrounds are not engaging with Live Art practices in the ways that many practitioners did in the mid to late 1990s.  Although there are a range of exciting younger practitioners from culturally diverse backgrounds currently engaging  with Live Art we do not get the sense of a large number of new artists waiting in the wings. Why is this? Why are more artists from culturally diverse backgrounds not embracing Live Art and what can the Live Art sector do, or do better, to address this? What are the different strategies and approaches that can be explored to engage artists from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Barby Asante uses engagement and participatory strategies to explore her interest in performativity, particularly in relation to her cultural identity.  Many of her ideas consider that we are all complicit in the creation and construction of our identities and the identities of those around us. She is interested in how we perform our identities and wants to create works that do not assign the problem of identity to particular groups in society, but rather consider identity as something that effects us all.  She has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad.  Projects include I Accept Your, Image I am You, 198 Gallery, Journey Into The East, The Showroom Gallery and Futurology: Black Country 2024, New Art Gallery, Walsall.  She was Lead Artist for the Bow Festival Roman Road Revel (2004) and is currently working on You Should See Kaba Styles for Africa Remix, at the Hayward Gallery in London. Barby also has extensive experience in running workshops and she talks regularly to artists about practice.