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Clifford Owens: Better the Rebel You Know

“I make art in my head, from my heart and through my body.”
— Clifford Owens

Clifford Owens’s debut European exhibition features key existing work and two new commissions: A UK version of a work first developed for New York’s MoMA PS1 and a piece involving participants from Manchester that challenges the boundaries of performance and image making.

In October 2013 Owens invited people to take part in the process of creating Photographs with an Audience: Manchester. During sessions held over two nights, he prompted the group to reveal personal information (‘who has experienced an eating disorder’, ‘who is in love’, ‘who has an alcoholic parent’). The group bravely and generously laid themselves bare, revealing intimate details about their lives. Reacting to their responses, Owens constructed a series of photographic compositions, capturing his audience’s histories, personalities and identities, and the exchanges that took place during the performances.

The photographs will be shown in the galleries as a collection of sequences, portraits and diptychs. Capturing fleeting moments and divulging the group’s confessions and conversations, they encourage us to question the relationship between the performances and their depiction on film.

For his second new commission Owens presents Anthology (2014), an extension of a work that debuted in New York in 2011. During a residency period Owens will present a series of live performances, delivering ‘scores’ (short sets of instructions, some specific, others open to interpretation) contributed by over 20 British artists whose work considers ideas of race, class and difference.

The scores, contributed by artists including Godfried Donkor, David Blandy and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, draw on British and African-American history and convey themes of pop culture, violence and generosity. Owens’s interpretations will encompass sound, video, photography and live performance. A number of scores will be performed on the opening weekend and during some, audience engagement will be key. See below for the schedule of performances.

The exhibition also features key photographs, video and installations from Owens’s show at New York’s MoMA PS1.

Live performances: Anthology (2014)
Thu 8 May, 18:00 – 19:00
Anthology (Naomi Kashiwagi)
Anthology (Jack Tan)
Anthology (Lynette Yiadom-Boakye)
Anthology (Lubaina Himid)

Fri 9 May, 19:00 – 20:00. These performances will take place during the exhibition preview, which opens at 18:00
Anthology (David Blandy)
Anthology (John Akomfrah and Trevor Mathison)
Anthology (Godfried Donkor)
Anthology (Lynette Yiadom-Boakye)

Sat 10 May, 16:00 – 17:00
Anthology (David Blandy)
Anthology (Jack Tan)
Anthology (Lynette Yiadom-Boakye)
Anthology (Lubaina Himid)

Please note the timings indicated are a guide only and are subject to change.