In the House of my Love
8 July - 11 September 2022
Opening on Friday 8th of July, 12 - 6pm
Continues until the 11th of September, Thursday - Sunday, 12 - 6pm
The Brent Biennial is free and open to all
The second edition of the Brent Biennial, In the House of my Love, brings together artists and community groups whose works explore the many meanings of homemaking. The Biennial asks how, and why, the act of making home can be a form of resistance and survival within the context of hostile environments—including those of racism, homophobia, ableism, climate catastrophe and political austerity.
In the House of my Love takes place in three cluster locations in the south of the North West London borough: Kilburn, Willesden and Harlesden. It will soon present 12 artists’ projects, sited in 10 different venues and public spaces, open and free for audiences to visit throughout the summer months.
Shenece Oretha presents In Counter Harmony at The Tin Tabernacle, a church made out of corrugated metal that was erected in Kilburn in the mid-19th century. Oretha’s commissioned installation spotlights the sounds and stories of multifunctional community spaces, including those of the tabernacle’s past, of other spaces in Brent and those of the artist’s own personal history within London community halls.
At Kingsgate Project Space in Kilburn, artist, illustrator and zine-maker Mohammed Zaahidur Rahman will show Unfurnished, a new series of paintings which explore questions of belonging through the lens of love and relationships, horticulture and agriculture, art, the act of crossing borders, resistance and food; and which reflect on the impact that the erasure of migrant histories can have on one’s own sense of self, identity, politics and sanity.
Katarzyna Perlak presents a series of Pajaki sculptures - traditional Polish paper chandeliers, hung to protect the home - at St Matthew’s Church in Willesden. The Pajakis are shown alongside My Grandma Doilies, a series of tablecloths made by, and inherited from, the artist’s late grandmother which have been hand-printed with family photographs and hand-embroidered by the artist with phrases and motifs that reflect on matrilineal inheritance, grief and queer identity.
Mahmoud Khaled's contribution is a loan from his earlier work, Proposal for a House Museum of an Unknown Crying Man, an installation that imagines the fictional life of a queer Egyptian man living in exile in Turkey. The installation in Brent, at Metroland Studio’s Gallery in Kilburn, begins with a video tour of the house before giving way to the bedroom of the Unknown Crying Man. Here, in the most intimate part of the home, we permissibly intrude as wandering visitors into a private space. Highlighting the violence of political persecution, Khaled’s installation poignantly reminds us that no human’s life is ever illegal.
Artist and choreographer Alex Baczynski-Jenkins presents a newly commissioned iteration of his on-going film work, You are a guest now. Shown in The Arches in Kilburn, You are a guest now interweaves intimate moments in the lives of four artists and friends in Warsaw, to give a poetic account of queer life, friendship, performance and love thriving both despite of, and in resistance to the hostility of the state towards LBGTQIA+ communities in Poland.
Filmmakers Arwa Aburawa and Turab Shah, founders of the Brent-based project Other Cinemas, present the short fiction film I Carry it With Me Everywhere at Design Works in Harlesden. Informed by interviews with first generation migrants, the film explores how migration results in moments of rupture from which new understandings of home and belonging may emerge; weaving together the lives of three characters as they confront inherited ideas of belonging.
In Metroland Studios in Kilburn, Rebecca Bellantoni presents the second chapter of her on-going trilogy project C.R.Y: Concrete Regenerative Yearnings. Comprising a commissioned new film and installation, You have any peace for me? reflects on specific experiences of the hostile environment and the trauma that it inflicts, alongside the dissolution of a community Bellantoni was a part of when growing up, who had embraced Rastafari as both a spiritual way of life and a political lens through which to view the world.
Linett Kamala’s installation, Disya Dancehall, takes as a point of departure the lived experiences of those who were involved in dancehall’s golden era in northwest London (1985–2000). Set in a former fish & chip shop on 2C Maygrove Road in Kilburn, themed as a Jamaican takeaway, the work features paintings from Kamala’s Materialistic Gal series: a visual archive focusing on the women revellers who attended dancehall parties. Recorded snippets of oral history interviews play in the installation, and visitors will experience “specials on the menu”; from days when snacks will be handed out, to small performances and takeaway posters and stickers.
At Newman Catholic College in Harlesden, Zinzi Minott presents her durational body of work Fi Dem, an exploration into Blackness and diaspora that results in a new video work being made annually on the anniversary of the Empire Windrush docking in the UK, on 22nd June 1948. The work takes Windrush Day as a moment to focus on those who move and who have been moved, those who stay, those who cannot leave and all of the slippages in between. Fi Dem was first released on 22nd June 2018, and to date comprises five moving image works; all of which are presented for the first time together in Brent as a five-channel video and sound installation.
Alongside Fi Dem I-V, for the closing weekend of the Biennial, Minott will present an iteration of Black on Black, a solo dance performance that explores Queerness, Blackness and the body as an archive. Composed of movement phrases donated to the artist by an extended network of Black dancers and artists, the work interrogates dance as a form of labour and the limits of the body through the exhausting processes of repetition and duration, sparking a nuanced discussion that attends to the lived and embodied intersections of race, class and gender in the aftermath of British Colonialism.
Sarah Rose presents a multi-channel sound installation in Roundwood Park, which takes as its point of departure the letters written between the American writer and conservationist Rachel Carson and her friend and lover Dorothy Freeman. Installed inside a disused bowling green room in the park, An Open Letter of Many Replies invites visitors to consider the permeability of borders and the queer ecologies that thrive beneath, between and through enclosure.
Produced in close collaboration with Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust as part of a series of four community-led commissions, Ed Webb-Ingall presents Growing Up Brent, a radio play and installation at The Library at Willesden Green. The project delves into the history and legacy of Mosaic in Brent to explore what it means to create communities of kin, particularly for individuals to whom such communities might initially seem out of reach.
In the House of my Love seeks to honour the long-standing systems of support, safety and hospitality that are currently present in Brent, revisiting other systems that are close to the borough’s past and working together to visualise and conceive ways forward. Inaddition to the 12 artists’ project, three additional community-led commissions - with Asian Women’s Resource Centre, SUFRA Foodbank and Kitchen and Young Roots – will extend beyond the exhibition dates.
Four public artworks by Brent-based artists commissioned via open call in partnership with the organisations BuildHollywood and Studio Voltaire will also be presented on billboards across the boroughs of Brent and Clapham. The artists that were selected for the billboard commissions are Jorell Bonnick, Sadia Pineda Hameed, Kamile Ofoeme and Theo White.
Further artists and practitioners from Brent and beyond will come to participate in the Biennial through an extended programme of activity with local partners, including two curated projects by ActionSpace, London’s leading development agency for artists with learning disabilities, and Harlesden High Street, a project that champions contemporary art by local and international artists, centering work by people of colour. The exhibitions will open on Thursday 21 July and Friday 22 July respectively, at The Kiln in Kilburn and Harlesden High Street’s Gallery in Harlesden.
Accompanying the Biennial exhibition will be a public programme of talks, workshops, screenings and family activities curated by Shama Khanna, Associate Curator for Public Programmes. The events will gather together community-building practices that centre creativity, healing, listening, showing up for others and asking bold questions, in what can otherwise be a dizzying political environment. The intention with the public programme is to nurture connections that can help to find one’s voice and feel supported in taking a stand against hostility. As with the rest of the Biennial, no prior knowledge or experience will be needed to attend the events. Details will be announced shortly.
You can download a map of all the Biennial locations below. We will soon be announcing further details on all the projects.
Drawing its title from a line in poet Ezra Green’s A Poem to the Nationalist Marcher (For the Queer People of Warsaw), In the House of my Love understands ideas of home and belonging to take many shapes—whether as feelings, as relations between people, or as experiences of bodies and places.
Led by Eliel Jones, Curator, in close collaboration with a curatorial committee consisting of artists Adam Farah, Jamila Prowse and Abbas Zahedi, the Brent Biennial 2022 pays homage to the many histories and legacies of migration that have made Brent both the second most ethnically diverse borough in London, and a local authority with one of the highest numbers of first-generation migrants in the country.
It has been ten years since the implementation of the Hostile Environment policy in the UK. This damaging set of legislative and administrative measures primarily affects migrant and non-white communities, and is closely connected to increasingly nationalist, xenophobic and racist political and cultural agendas in Britain. Throughout its modern history, the various migrant communities that make up Brent have built infrastructures of care through developing grassroots services and crisis response networks, pioneering activist and union movements, and standing up for change in the borough and beyond.
The art practices shaping this year’s Biennial all explore various approaches towards homemaking built within friendship, chosen families, love and collaboration. Attending to the dialogues they generate, In the House of my Love will help us to collectively consider what makes Brent both a place where people feel like they belong, and where care and solidarity between different communities is nurtured through sharing experiences of unbelonging. These ideas of home appear throughout the programmes and exhibitions of the Biennial in many forms—whether through a song, a memory, a bedroom, a youth group, a church, a friend or a poem.
In the House of my Love seeks to provide a space for imagining new forms of homemaking as resistance, by honouring the long-standing systems of support, safety and hospitality that are currently present in Brent, revisiting other systems that are close to the borough’s past and working together to visualise and conceive ways forward.
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