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DIY: 2015 – Alexandrina Hemsley ‘Present Histories’

A conversational space for navigating historical distance and embodied nearness.

Project Summary

I would like to invite practising artists with African heritage of all ages to join me in a three day workshop exploring personal and cultural missing histories of UK black historical narratives. I have noticed over and over how the curation of historical narratives around the work of black artists is very limited within the cannon of dance history. This affects my practice as I search for missing roots and contexts. This affects my tongue as experiences of racism feel unmentionable.

I want to gesture towards beginning again – re-visit, re-remember, re-tell, and re-record both our personal and cultural histories. 

To start, a group visit to Room 25:Africa of The British Museum hopes to question the spaces that take power from black identities and then reflect them back to us. Through the course of the workshop, we may begin to discover how to reclaim African artifacts from a Eurocentric history to create a different kind of centre to operate and contextualise our practices from. 

I will be asking my mother to assist me as an invitation to different generations to share their knowledges as well as their gaps in knowledge with one another. 

One last thing – My Grandpa never wanted to visit museums in England because he didn't want to insult the objects as old and dead.    

Participation in this three day workshop is free and if you are coming from outside of London, contributions towards travel can be arranged.

Application Deadline: Deadline passed.

Dates, times, location 
Friday 27 – Sunday 29 November, with two days based at Chelsea Theatre and one at the British Museum.

The Artist

Alexandrina is a choreographer/performer/occasional writer who makes work that aims to celebrate and reclaim her identity as a mixed-race woman and dismiss the various cultural frameworks that often mark, violate and subjugate her body. Often she fails and falls into stunned silences. Her artistic practice is a way to undo this. A way to react because she can be shy, blank-faced and avoid conflict.

Alexandrina wants to know and keep knowing active and open – she does this mostly through dance collaborations Project O with Jamila Johnson-Small and Dad Dancing with Helena Webb and Rosie Heafford.

She is interested in creating supportive, fluid, inclusive situations and spaces for dialogues between groups of people.

Banner image credit:

Image courtesy of the artist

Part of DIY: 2015

Unusual professional development projects conceived and run BY artists FOR artists

DIY: 2015


Unusual professional development projects conceived and run BY artists FOR artists

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DIY: 2015 – Call for proposals


Unusual professional development projects conceived and run BY artists FOR artists

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DIY: 2016 – Documentation


Selected images, video and participant feedback

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