VARI Artist in Residence Call: Opening the Cabinet, Histories of Slavery and Slave-Ownership

December 15, 2017
8115:5 Tile designs; hexagonal;
By Owen Jones; British;

We are delighted to announce our new call for artists who are keen to engage with the histories of slavery and slave-ownership that are ‘hidden in plain sight’ within in the museum, as part of the V&A Research Institute (VARI) Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities project. The selected artist will be encouraged to engage with both the V&A’s collections and the information we are unearthing about them to make visible these histories not currently reflected in the museum.

The residency will be based at the V&A South Kensington and will take place over a three-month period from February to the end of April 2018. There are limitations to the display or the direct handling of objects within the V&A’s collections. We are therefore seeking an artist who will utilise alternative ways, such as performance, sound, film, projection mapping or a digital intervention, of making their presence known.  Artists will also have a follow on opportunity to showcase the work of the residency with an installation/performance/event at the V&A in September 2018 during the London Design Festival.

VARI will provide a £6,500 bursary and an additional budget of £2,000 for materials needed for production of any public facing activities or displays.  A team drawn from VARI’s staff will provide support throughout the project.

We are interested in receiving applications from practitioners who wish to work with the Museum’s resources and collections and would welcome the opportunity to actively work on projects with the public.  Applicants must have a working knowledge of spoken and written English. We particularly welcome proposals from artists from culturally diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

Deadline for applications: 15th January 2018

Interview date: 26th January 2018 between 10 am and 5 pm London time

Submissions for this residency are now closed but an update on the selected artist, as well as their work on this project, will feature on our blog very soon.

About the author

December 15, 2017

Eileen is responsible for the smooth running of VARI and its activities. She is also an illustrator and has had a varied career, including being a rescue scuba diver in...

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8 comments so far, view or add yours


as a British Jamaican visual artist and musician currently living and working in Berlin my practice is very much focused on what I term The Migration of the Eternal Afro Sonic Signifier, this dovetails with my theory Afro Sonic Mapping Tracing aural Histories via Sonic Transmigrations which in fact investigates black Atlantic slave narratives (the middle passage)( from a sonic perspective, next year my first Afro Sonic Mapping will commence in June funded by HKW The House of World Cultures in Berlin, I will be visiting the Mbala region of the DRC with a digital copy of a 1905 phonograph recording made by Leo Frobenius an early German anthropologist, this music will be decoded and in collaboration with local musicians I will write,
contemporary compositions with a focus on the beat. this will be repeated in Luanda, Bahia, and Lisbon. This jorneyis in fact a slave route revisited from a sonic perspective please browse my website for further work in this direction thank you. Satch Hoyt

Slaves in Africa were bought with beads from Venice.V&A has collections of these? Women in west africa plyed UDU drums they prepared from clay.Intresting theme to work with. Have been working 2 years in Tanzania as well as in Guinea with local women.

Wow …so interested in this project but sadly just learning about it today …on the 16th! Please let me know if deadline gets extended.

Thank you
Rosalyn Myles
Installation artist of color

Thank you, Satch! That sounds like a really interesting project and I will share your comment with the team.

Hi Rosalyn, thanks for the comment, the deadline has not been extended I’m afraid. I’m sorry you weren’t able to apply this time. Please do keep an eye on our VARI webpages for future opportunities though.

Thank you Catherine, your work sounds fascinating. We do have a number of beads in the collection and many of these can be found in our Search The Collections part of our website. Whether these particular beads have direct links with slaves bought in Africa, I do not know. The multiple hidden histories of our objects is a challenge and something we are seeking to explore with this residency.

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