As the challenges of these dark times cast a shadow over the start of November, let’s infuse this bleak beginning with a bit of joy through tonight’s First Thursdays guide to recommendations for events happening in East London. Tonight’s route includes four stops: Lutz Bacher: AYE! at Raven Row, Voyages at Autograph, Tami Aftab: The Rice is on the Hob at Have A Butchers—or Stories from Eastern, Central and Southern African Communities in Hackney at the Hackney Museum. The total length of the walk is around an hour if you decide to end it at the Palestine Solidarity Fundraiser, or one hour twenty minutes if you conclude it at the Hackney Museum.
The route will start as usual from Whitechapel Gallery and head first to Raven Row for an exhibition of the unsettling, uncategorisable work of American artist Lutz Bacher (1943–2019) exploring her use of music, sound and voice. Bacher’s work oscillates between the conceptual and the visceral. Much of it involves appropriation, using material from American popular culture and flotsam from the information age (pulp fiction, self-help manuals, trade magazines, scientific publications, pornography, bureaucracy, discarded photographs). Lutz Bacher: AYE!, initiated with the artist by curator Anthony Huberman before her death, includes films and installations that feature the voices of Leonard Cohen, Roberta Flack and James Earl Jones, and the funeral of Princess Diana, as well as a pit of sand, giant sound baffles and a machine that plays the keys of an electric organ. Often in Bacher’s film and sound work, moments are suspended, raising tension to a point between agony and bathos.
The following stop will be the first UK solo exhibition of Hélène Amouzou‘at Autograph. The show comprises a series of self-portraits, bringing together fifteen years of Amouzou’s work. Hand-printed photographs are a crucial document of a migrant who has grappled with notions of freedom, exclusion, and bureaucracy—an attempt to recapture her identity and sense of belonging. Voyages raises important questions: What does it mean to seek refuge? What does belonging feel like? What does it mean to live in limbo? What burden does the body carry as a result? The Togolese-born, Belgium-based artist’s distinctive imagery is created through long exposures, contemplating the complex emotions of displacement and exile.
Conclude the walk at the Hackney Museum for Stories from Eastern, Central and Southern African Communities in Hackney where you will have the opportunity to see a series of interventions and temporary displays sharing stories from Hackney’s Eastern, Central, and Southern African heritage communities.