Fugitive Desires engages with the archive of 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning looking at what sustains, upholds or restructures our pleasure and desire. As a gallery that transformed from a Caribbean social club, into a to space for local community, young people and artists, the walls of 198 hold the energy of each moment each breath, exhibition, conversation, opening, performance and workshop. Fugitive Desires brings together the work of international and UK based artists, drawing on material from 198’s archive, placing this material next to new work to consider how the use of archives can be not just reflective but also inspire future ways of being.
Fugitive Desires is an ode to the architecture of 198, revisiting the work of artists who have shown in the gallery over the last 28 years, by tracing different forms of connection and kinship within the archives. In recalling the space of 198 and its potential for becoming, again and again, the works of Raksha Patel, Joy Gregory, Carol Chin, Carloz Madriz and Ben Jones, allude to the poetics of the archive, with subtle reminders of sacred spirituality, (re)turning the gaze, and how desire spills into mundane and everyday objects. There is an intimate remixing of archival images through collage and large-scale drawing in the contemporary works by Cai Zhang and Heidi Sincuba. Both artists respond to the archive through an intimate continuation of what came before by engaging with ideas of the digital relationship to humanness, sexual pleasure, desire and race. Sculptures by Daniella Valz-Gen, Pachamama Nuna (Makeshift Utopia) and Outside-in invite viewers to experience fugitive desires in a material form, through an invitation to intimately engage with the material narrative of the objects.
In the exhibition, both the works referenced in the archives and the contemporary works, rub up against each other, touch each other and bring up tender and restorative connections. Touching here becomes a form of generative labour, inspired by Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic. An urgent labour much needed in this hardening and increasingly racist political climate as Black and Brown people attempt to imagine and reconfigure the connections that sustain and nurture their futures. To this end in the back gallery, selected video works look into different forms of being, future imaginings, geographies of pleasure, queer desire and loss. Works by Ope Lori, Michele Pearson Clarke, Pratibha Parmar, Tabita Rezaire, Lynnée Denise and FAKA are selected specifically to reflect on future possibilities that emerge from the archive. The desire to feel, to recognise, to connect, and to arrive, are not fixed to a certain time or location, but rather are transient and inspired by Fred Moten’s notion of the fugitive, to re-imagine structures for those who fall without, for the quiet revolutionaries, the feminist killjoys, the tricksters, the sorcerers, the wanderers, and those who plant seeds and harvest to undo the default.
Fugitive Desires serves as an open invitation to find a temporary home in the fugitive, to re-think and desire what makes us possible, inviting artists and audience to respond, build, disrupt and re-frame the (un)familiar.