Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Christabel Johanson

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Spoken word artist Malcolm London


Art gives us the ability to acknowledge each other’s humanity. In the words of MLK (Martin Luther King Jr), Justice is what love looks like in public. I believe that but there is clearly a discrepancy as to who gets justice & who doesn’t. We need more love and art, to me this allows us to access parts of ourselves and reimagine a better tomorrow. I don’t think there can be justice without art. There cannot be art without an interrogation of justice.

Spoken word artist Malcolm London from Chicago in conversation with Christabel Johanson

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Mbithi Masya’s movie Kati Kati


I was grieving the loss of a close friend and during one of their wakes, I heard someone say that my friend was lucky because she had left all of the weight of the world behind. That got me thinking. What if that’s not true. What if some of this baggage follows us to the other side. That was the seed of the story and we developed the world from there with my co-writer Mugambi Nthiga.

Mbithi Masya about what inspired him to make the movie Kati Kati

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Black Sound Exhibition London


Even now the ‘black sound’ is a constantly energetic and evolving creature. With more and more cross-genre records being dropped across Dance and Pop regularly there is little doubt that black music is the mainstream sound and market leader across the Western world.

Christabel Johanson on Black Music in the UK
Poster exhibition Black Sound

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Jean-Michel Basquiat and New York

BOOMJean-Michel Basquiat, Self Portrait, 1984, Provate colelction_preview

Basquiat was educated by New York which quite literally became his canvas and eventually also his coffin.(….) Basquiat’s life, work and death mirrored New York’s own cycle of growth, destruction and rebirth and is so linked to it that his reputation is almost as notorious as the city itself.

Two quotes from this essay of Christabel Johanson on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s exhibition in The Barbican Centre in London
Self Portrait, 1984 (Private collection)
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Oh the Horror: Black Characters in Scary Movies


Horror is often cited as the genre that reflects our deepest, darkest and most base fears and this is why it is the rawest platform to explore society. The best films evoke the visceral, emotional and mental demons that reside within us and as such it is clear that race is a demon that still frightens society. The catch is that ‘society’ has meant white society and so the threat of the Other has always been present. Therefore the two-dimensional, reductive portrayals of black and minority characters have endured.

Christabel Johanson on Black Characters in Scary Movies
Still from ‘Get Out’, 2017

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