Deptford X, South East London’s free 10-day contemporary visual arts festival, returns to the capital with its largest programme to date, including 12 major projects and a fringe programme of almost 100 events drawn from the local community.

Taking place from 25 October – 3 November 2019, this year’s theme is ‘Stop Making Sense’, taken from the Talking Heads’ 1984 concert film of the same name. The festival’s new director Nathalie Boobis, who joined Deptford X in January 2019, describes this choice of theme as reflecting “surreal, playful and unruly art as a disruption to our current political climate of hostility and division”.

Boobis has curated twelve major projects, seven of which are by international artists and can be read as a distributed exhibition across different sites and spaces in Deptford. The commissioned artists are Kobby Adi, Sarah Browne, Roland Carline, Tiz Creel, Jin Han Lee, Sophie Mallett and Gray Wielebinski.

London-based Adi, whose work explores cultural objects associated with Blackness, presents a project entitled End in the And which includes a digitised 16mm film, a billboard on Brookmill Road and a series of sculptures. One element of the work, Feeeeeeld, consists of 120 JD Sports drawstring bags filled with chicken manure. Informed by a wide range of sources and methodologies including tricksterism, Hip-Hop, museology and archiving, Adi adapts and utilises readymade objects in order to both disrupt and create meaning.

Tiz Creel’s work (pictured top) involves designing opportunities for people to play and explore in order to encourage new and positive social interactions. For his commission Creel has created The Deptford Quest, a participatory game that leads visitors on a fantastical journey through Deptford via a series of clues and instructions on vinyl floor stickers placed on pavements. At Leander Hall, a community centre on Deptford’s Vanguard Estate, Creel is exhibiting Space for autonomous imagination, a bespoke, interactive bouncy castle.

Sarah Browne, who co-represented Ireland at the 53rd Venice Biennale, presents the premiere of her new film The Shambles of Science. The work draws parallels between accounts of vivisection and violence towards suffragettes, to blur questions of accountability while forging cross-species alliances through shared vulnerability.

The remaining five participants in the curated programme have been specially commissioned from an open call aimed at BAME applicants. The commissioned artists, who are supported financially and curatorially by Deptford X, are Ikra Arshad, George Boros, Tyreis Holder, Nkechinyere Nwobani-Akanwo and Davinia-Ann Robinson.

Politics and participation feature in several of the commissions. Nwobani-Akanwo’s The People’s Party is a day of workshops where Deptford locals are invited to express their political ideas and form their own party, while Robinson’s PRESENCE takes the form of an exhibition and two day drop-in collaborative studio session held at Lewisham Arthouse. Women of colour are invited into a restorative and discursive space to share their experiences of being rendered ‘visible/invisible and present/absent’. Participants will co-create artwork in response to the emotional impacts of these experiences by impressing parts of their bodies or written text on to pre-rolled beds of clay.

Meanwhile, the Fringe is made up of 94 projects by local artists, curators, galleries and arts organisations. Locations range from a painting installation in a hairdressers, a sound installation in the toilet of a bar and the napkins of a Vietnamese restaurant, to Deptford Community Cinema, local galleries and studios, and Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art.

Deptford X takes place in a range of spaces across Deptford, South East London from 25 October – 3 November 2019.

1. Tiz Creel, Space for autonomous imagination, 2019. Courtesy the artist
2. Kobby Adi, Over (for now), 2019, production still.
3. Sarah Browne, The Shambles of Science, 2019. Production still by Joshua Aylett.
4. Nkechinyere Nwobani-Akanwo. Courtesy Steve Carrera

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