The Board of Trustees of the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) are delighted to announce the appointment of Barak adé Soleil and Chinasa Vivian Ezugha as joint Co-Directors, following an international recruitment process.
Both practicing artists with distinct administrative and leadership experience, Chinasa and Barak’s proposal impressed the panel with their collective vision for LADA and the Live Art sector, holistic understanding of artists’ needs, and evolved approach to radical, socially-engaged projects and practices.
Ansuman Biswas and Gill Lloyd, LADA’s Co-Chairs, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Barak and Chinasa and to support them as they lead LADA into its new phase. LADA’s co-founder and outgoing Director Lois Keidan has altered the landscape of Live Art during her two decades of visionary leadership and Barak and Chinasa are now set to enrich and extend that legacy. After a time of great uncertainty across the cultural sector we look forward to welcoming, with them, a new period of enthusiasm and opportunity for LADA, and for all the many communities affected and empowered by Live Art.’
Lois Keidan on the appointment: ‘I am thrilled that the artists Barak adé Soleil and Chinasa Vivian Ezugha will be leading LADA into the future. I know that the ripple effects of their bold vision and fresh thinking will be felt across Live Art and beyond. Their leadership will help shape the world we all want to see following the seismic events of 2020, and I cannot wait to see what unfolds over the years to come.’
Within this new leadership as Co-Directors, Chinasa and Barak will share oversight of the agency’s operations, strategies and artistic programmes, alongside LADA’s core team of five staff. Barak will primarily be based at The Garrett Centre, home of LADA’s Study Room and events space in Bethnal Green, while Chinasa will often work outside London, focusing on supporting Live Art’s artists and infrastructure regionally.
Barak and Chinasa’s joint statement: ‘We are deeply excited to be joining the Live Art Development Agency as its new Co-Directors, and to bridge what we have experienced within the contemporary arts ecology with our ways of being and moving through this world. Rooted in performance, our creative practices have charted the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, ultimately leading us to find kinship in Live Art. Since meeting in 2015, we have found ourselves engaged in vibrant conversations affirming our intertwining cultural legacies and involvement in the sector. These conversations led us to collaborate on how we could chart a kind of leadership that would be in keen alignment with the evolution of LADA, creating a co-leadership model informed by our passion for equity and inclusion, and with a nuanced understanding of intersectionality and interdependence. Always willing to take risks and face challenges, we will seek out opportunities to support processes that push the boundaries and expand the notion of what Live Art is, and can be. The unfolding of our vision will begin with shaping a ‘culture of care’ within LADA, spilling out into the ways we will cultivate networks that foster meaningful exchanges between and amongst the practitioners, producers, funders, audiences and presenters of Live Art. Mapping the extensive diversity of makers and shapers that further posits Live Art as a container of liveness and of living histories, we hope to further an understanding of how to attend to the complexities of this current moment with grace and radical creativity.’
LADA’s incoming Co-Directors will take up their roles this coming autumn, in tandem with the launch of Mapping The UK’s Live Art Sector, an unprecedented research report commissioned by LADA and funded by Arts Council England in 2019 (co-led by Dr. Cecilia Wee and Dr Elyssa Livergant, with Chinasa Vivian Ezugha, Dr. Tarek Virani, Dr. Johanne Linsley, and Dr. Tim Jeeves) that delves into the landscape of Live Art both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jennifer Cleary, Director, Combined Arts and North West, Arts Council England, offered this statement in support of the new leadership: ‘Arts Council England would like to extend a warm welcome to Barak and Chinasa as the new Co-Directorship of LADA. The appointment represents an exciting collaborative and artist-led approach to leadership that is sure to flourish, innovate and excite. We look forward to seeing how their combined voice, perspectives and experiences will help shape the future of LADA and of the Live Art sector more generally, both in the UK and beyond.’
BSL interpretation: Jacqueline Lewis for Involve Interpreter
Barak adé Soleil (he + they) has been involved in the contemporary arts field since 1991. Their creative practice draws upon the performativity and labour of the racialised, disabled and queer body; informed by extensive experimentation and rigorous studies in the traditions of the African Diaspora, contemporary techniques in dance and theatre, and postmodernism. Throughout their creative career, Barak has engaged with diverse communities, artists, creatives, presenters and organisations at the local, national and international scale. Travelling for work offered the opportunity to witness powerful artmaking throughout North and South America, Europe, and West Africa, ultimately allowing them to cultivate a global network. Fluidly moving between creating, interpreting and collaborations in theatre, dance and Live Art, Barak has received various acknowledgements including: 2020 & 2017 Art Matters Foundation Award; 2019 Ragdale Foundation Residency Fellowship; 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency Fellowship; and 2016 3Arts Award. Presentations of their performance and conceptual work have occurred at: Hudson Gallery/Refiguring The Future exhibition (2019, NYC); 7a11d International Festival of Performance Art (2018, Toronto); and Gallery 400/Chicago Disability Activism, Art, and Design exhibition (2018, Chicago). Curation of multidisciplinary and performing arts has been produced by: Brooklyn Arts Exchange (NYC), Links Hall (Chicago), Tangled Art Gallery (Toronto), and Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). Interwoven throughout administrative and creative work, they have participated in and facilitated workshops, panels and creative processes internationally in Germany and Canada, consulted with organisations and independent artists, been invited to offer keynotes, and served on juries across the US. Barak will be relocating to London from Chicago, where they currently serve as Director of Programs for contemporary arts organisation Threewalls.
Chinasa Vivian Ezugha (she/her) is an award-winning Nigerian-born, British artist living and working in Hampshire. Her interdisciplinary practice spans Live Art, film and drawing. Interested in history and how it is performed in the mundanity of everyday living, performance for her is an embodiment of past, present and future experiences. Born in Nigeria, Enugu state in 1991, Ezugha makes work that connects her to her cultural heritage and to questions about her identity as a Black woman living in England. Having graduated from Aberystwyth University, School of Art (2014) and with an MA in Performance Making from Goldsmiths (2020), Ezugha’s work has been presented in venues across Europe, America and the UK, including SPILL Festival (Ipswich, 2018), Performance Space (Folkestone, 2018) In Between Time Festival (Bristol, 2017), ECOS (Bilbao, Spain, 2017), Songs for President (New York 2015) and Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival (Chicago, 2015). She was a Leverhulme Arts Scholar at Wysing Arts Centre (2014), winner of the New Art Exchange Open Main Prize (2019), Awesome Foundation disability grant winner (2019), and a recipient of the Santander Universities Post Covid-19 Performance Making Enterprise Award (2020) supported by Santander Universities and ICCE, Goldsmiths, University of London. Chinasa is the founder of Live Art in Wymondham, a one-day site-specific series of events that brought emerging artists working in Live Art to rural Norfolk. Ezugha has served on the Board of Trustees for The Garage Theatre, Norwich, for five years and for Pentabus Rural Theatre from 2017 to 2018. Chinasa is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter and the 2021 Research Associate at the Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry.
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