In this year of uncertainty, Socially Engaged Art Salon (SEAS) celebrated five years of hosting events and exhibitions of socially engaged art. In an epic year, they curated and hosted ten exhibitions, more than ten events and hosted an artist residency, running events both online during lockdowns and in person since.
In January, the exhibition Gaslighting was a group art exhibition showcasing the work of artists who have had direct experience of domestic abuse. Curated by Miranda Gavin, the result was a selection of personal work on this theme that included photography, film, animation, performance, poetry and painting.
In February, the group exhibition Queering Spaces focussed on the LGBTQ+ community and its most vulnerable members, which were hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. SEAS said: “In many ways, the pandemic brought back the trauma of the AIDS crisis, and promoted discussions about the importance of safe spaces when, for some, ‘Stay at home and stay safe’ is not a viable option and, at times, even a contradiction.”
‘Force of Fantasy’, SEAS’ March exhibition, curated by Ricardo Reveron Blanco, was a theoretical evaluation, taking Judith Butler’s essay The Force of Fantasy: Feminism, Mapplethorpe, and Discursive Excess as a starting point, and proposing that fantasy is a powerful tool to not only imagine alternative futures but to manifest them by looking beyond convention. The Force of Fantasy entered the extraordinary as a means to open up dialogues about gender, race, class, and critique our pervasive social hierarchy.
From May to July, SEAS hosted a two part exhibition, entitled The Face of the Other and News from Nowhere. Curated by Gil Mualem-Doron, and featuring photography, illustration and collage, the works in this exhibition dealt with degrees of visibility, highlight social and political issues and yet others question the politics of visibility itself. Addressing Refugee Week’s 2021 theme, We Cannot Walk Alone, the second part of the exhibition included a procession with music and public art intervention.
In August, the exhibition Queer Heterotopias explored places that are outside the norm, that are strange or queer. Similarly, the October exhibition Queer Photography: a non-definitive survey, which celebrated the opening of new LGBTQ+ space The Ledward Centre, was a large group exhibition of lens-based artists and photographers with participatory and collaborative projects examining queer identities.
In November, SEAS hosted Art Apart, a travelling exhibition by the charity Indian Futures, which consisted of work by local artists that were created during Covid-19 lockdowns.
SEAS has hosted a solo exhibition by Annis Harrison and an artist residency with Maja Spasova. They also ran a year-long exhibition of Artists of the Month, curated by Charlotte Graham-Spouge, which has promoted the online sales of 12 socially engaged artists.
SEAS has partnered with countless local artists, collectives, Refugee Week, Brighton Digital Festival, and Brighton Fringe to run textile workshops, creative therapy programmes, sound and collaborative workshops as well as artist talks.
SEAS added: “We want to thank Art Council England, Sussex Communities Fund, Brighton and & Community Fund for enabling us to continue our work, and The Ledward Centre and BMECP for hosting our exhibitions.
“We rely on donations and the support of our volunteers in order to continue promoting socially engaged art. Any donation makes a difference.”
For more info and to donate, CLICK HERE