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Alongside our current exhibition, history is a living weapon in yr hand, join us for a free online In-conversation event between our current exhibitor Onyeka Igwe and Dr. Jenni Ramone, Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Global Literatures at NTU.

Together, they will explore topics related to Igwe’s wider practice and the ideas, research and development that informs both the exhibition and Igwe’s 2023 film, A Radical Duet, that is central to the installation.

On the evening there will be the opportunity to pose questions.

We caught up with moving-image artist and researcher Onyeka Igwe ahead of her forthcoming show, history is a living weapon in yr hand which launches on 12 January, and runs until 2 March 2024.

A woman standing outside in front of a bush.
Onyeka Igwe portrait by Yasmin Akim.
  1. Where are you right now?
  1. How would you describe your forthcoming exhibition, history is a living weapon in yr hand to someone who is unfamiliar with your work?
    I’d say it was an exhibition about rehearsing the future through the lens of the history of black radicalism in 1940s London.

  2. How did you first become interested in moving image work?
    I always loved going to the cinema when I was a kid, it was a pleasure and distraction. I made films as a hobby at university but then my friend Thea said, “why not be a filmmaker?” in the last months of my final year of a politics degree. I thought I’d make documentaries but I was disappointed by the documentary world, and then I discovered art when I lived in a project space called Limazulu and that felt like the setting I wanted to explore the moving image in.

  3. What’s been the most rewarding part of creating your film, A Radical Duet?
    Working with all the cast and crew, the feeling I had on the set, and the very fact that my words on a page became real.

  4. What’s your favourite thing about being an artist?
    That my job is to think, follow my curiosities and share that.

  5. Which bands or musicians are on your playlist at the moment?
    I recently got my record player working again and so was listening to something I bought in the pandemic but haven’t spent so much time with, African Acid is the Future.

  6. What do you do when you have a day off?
    Pretend I know how to relax! I’m trying to find a new hobby after roller derby took over my life.

  7. What works or shows do you have in the pipeline?
    Next year I’ll be in the Nigerian Pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale and touring history is a living weapon in yr hand to other galleries in the UK. I want to make the feature film version of A Radical Duet so trying to rustle up some funding!

Join us for a free, accessible tour of history is a living weapon in yr hand led by Onyeka Igwe (artist) & Elaine Joseph (audio describer), and accompanied by a BSL interpreter.

General access information to the building can be found here
Accessibility information for the exhibition can be found here

Book your free place now

Join us for a free tour of history is a living weapon in yr hand by Onyeka Igwe, led by Gallery Director Tom Godfrey.

Free, open to all

Book your free place now

A woman wearing glasses and a head-dress sitting in a wood-panelled room.
Onyeka Igwe, A Radical Duet, 2023, HD Video, 28:09 mins. Courtesy the artist.

Onyeka Igwe
history is a living weapon in yr hand
13 January – 2 March 2024

Exhibition preview: Friday 12 January 6-8pm

Bonington Gallery presents history is a living weapon in yr hand, a solo exhibition of new and reconfigured work by London based artist Onyeka Igwe. The exhibition follows Igwe’s acclaimed solo exhibition A Repertoire of Protest (No Dance, No Palaver) at MoMA PS1 in New York, earlier this year, and ahead of her inclusion in the exhibition Nigeria Imaginary at the national pavilion of Nigeria at the Venice Biennale 2024.

The exhibition will be centred around a new two-screen adaptation of Igwe’s dual timeline experimental film A Radical Duet (2023). In 1947 London was a hub of radical anti-colonial activity, with international intellectuals, artists, and activists such as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Sylvia Wynter, C L R James, Kwame Nkrumah and George Padmore all in London at this time. Each of them was individually agitating for their respective countries’ national independence, but did they meet, and if so, what did they discuss?

The film features fictional characters inspired by these radical figures. It imagines what happens when two women of different generations, but both part of the post-war independence movement, come together in London to put their fervour and imagination into writing a revolutionary play. The film depicts this process and envisages what that play would look like if staged today.

A film still featuring a man standing in a dark room, with his hands in the air, holding a book in one hand.
Onyeka Igwe, A Radical Duet, 2023, HD Video, 28:09 mins. Courtesy the artist.

The film will be accompanied by elements of the set design and props from the making of A Radical Duet, taking inspiration from the Jamaican writer and cultural theorist, Sylvia Wynter’s ideas on theatrical adaptation. Wynter builds on Brechtian principles of modern epic theatre and advises on how set design can support a theatre to ‘explode [social] fears by bringing them out into the light of day’.

For this exhibition, Igwe will be working with Collective Text, an organisation supporting accessibility in art and film through creative captioning, audio description and interpretation.

history is a living weapon in yr hand is produced in collaboration with Peer Gallery, London, where it will be presented in autumn 2024.

Join us for a first look around history is a living weapon in yr hand, a new exhibition by Onyeka Igwe, a London-born and based moving image artist and researcher. Her work is aimed at the question: how do we live together? She is interested in the prosaic and everyday aspects of black livingness and exploring overlooked histories.

Accompanying the exhibition, An Elegant Marker of Endless Invention in our vitrines highlights key women who embraced creative activities to challenge imperialism.

Book your ticket

We are excited to announce details of the three gallery exhibitions that will form part of our 2023/24 programme, launching in September 2023.

Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to be first to hear about upcoming exhibition launches, tours and events for our next season.

John Beck and Matthew Cornford: The Art Schools of the East Midlands
Open: Friday 22 September – Saturday 2 December, 2023
Preview: Thursday 21 September, 6–8 pm

Featuring new photographic work depicting all the art school buildings of the East Midlands, or the sites upon which they stood, this exhibition aims to celebrate and encourage critical reflection on the place of art schools and art education in the region past, present and future.

The ‘Art School Project’ is an art and research collaboration that explores the history of the British art school system, its regional variations, educational and political contexts, and vital cultural legacies. Beck and Cornford’s photographic survey of the art schools of the North West was exhibited at Liverpool Bluecoat (2018), Bury Art Museum (2019) and Rochdale Touchstones (2021). Recent work on the West Midlands was shown at the New Art Gallery Walsall (February – July 2023) and a public artwork, commissioned by Meadow Arts and Hereford College of Arts, opened in Hereford June 2023.

John Beck is a writer and a Professor in the School of Humanities at the University of Westminster.  

Matthew Cornford is an artist and Professor of Fine Art at the University of Brighton. 

Instagram: The Art School Project

Onyeka Igwe – history is a living weapon in yr hand
Open: Saturday 13 January – Saturday 2 March, 2024

Preview: Friday 12 January, 6–8 pm

Onyeka Igwe is a London born and based moving image artist and researcher. Her work is aimed at the question: how do we live together? She is interested in the prosaic and everyday aspects of black livingness and exploring overlooked histories.

She was nominated for the 2022 Jarman Award, MaxMara Artist Prize for Women 2022-24, awarded the 2021 Foundwork Artist Prize, 2020 Arts Foundation Futures Award for Experimental Short Film and was the recipient of the Berwick New Cinema Award in 2019.

Artist website:
Film London Profile:
MoMa PS1 exhibition:

Osheen Siva
Open: Saturday 16 March – Saturday 4 May, 2024
Preview: Friday 15 March, 6–8 pm

Osheen Siva is an artist, illustrator and muralist, currently based in Goa. Through the lens of surrealism, speculative fiction and science fiction and rooted in their Dalit and Tamil heritage, Siva imagines new worlds of decolonized dreamscapes with mutants and monsters and narratives of queer and feminine power. They work in a variety of mediums including immersive media, installations, performance art, public art and digital illustration.

Past clients have included The New York Times, Adult Swim, Meta, Apple, Gucci, Adi Magazine, Absolut, Dr. Martens, Decolonize Fest among others.

Artist website:
It’s Nice That: