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Presented alongside Onyeka Igwe’s solo exhibition history is a living weapon in yr hand, discover a selection of materials selected by the artist, that highlight key women who embraced creative activities to challenge imperialism and imagine new Pan-African realities.

In looking into the history of Pan-Africanism from the 1930s up until Howard Macmillan’s famous Winds of Change speech in 1960, many famed and celebrated men emerge as having spent time in the UK before rising to prominence in Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia as political leaders. The women are lesser known and celebrated, but figures like Amy Ashwood Garvey, Katherine Dunham, Una Marson, Sylvia Wynter and Funmilayo Ransome Kuti played their part using music, poetry, dance and theatre to challenge imperialism and imagine new Pan-African futures. 

Exhibition launch

Join us for a first look round the exhibition on Friday 12 January from 6–8 pm.
Book your free ticket

Images by Jules Lister

With audio description and creative captions

history is a living weapon in yr hand is a solo exhibition of new and reconfigured work by London-based artist Onyeka Igwe.

The exhibition will be centred around a new two-screen adaptation of Igwe’s dual timeline experimental film A Radical Duet (2023). The film imagines what happened when two women of different generations, but both part of the post-war independence movement, came 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.

1947 London was a hub of radical anti-colonial activity. International intellectuals, artists, and activists like Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Sylvia Wynter, C.L.R. James, Kwame Nkrumah, and George Padmore were all in London at the eve of the end of British colonialism. Individually, they were agitating for their respective countries’ national independence, but did they meet? And if they all did, what did they discuss? What did they conjure?

The film will be accompanied by elements of the set design and props from the making of A Radical Duet, taking inspiration from 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.

A Radical Duet was commissioned by FLAMIN Productions through FILM LONDON Artists’ Moving Image Network with funding from Arts Council England.

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

Photographs by Jules Lister