Ashanti Harris: An Exercise in Exorcism // Saturday 20 November 2021, 4pm

GoMA will host a performance of An Exercise in Exorcism – a performance re-conceived by Ashanti Harris for three dancers to be performed in the opulent main space at GoMA. This continues the series of performances where artists have been commissioned to to respond to the building and develop a performance as part of the 25 anniversary programme for GoMA.

Ashanti Harris utilises dance, performance and installation to reimagine historical narratives from a Caribbean diasporic perspective. Working with a desire to make invisible histories visible, her recent research explores the colonial relationship between Guyana and Scotland and the ways in which these geographies and cultures are ‘haunted’ by one another.

An Exercise in Exorcism is a performance in three parts executed whilst listening to three episodes of ‘Veritas Maat sees thru the veil’ – a youtube channel made by spiritual entrepreneur, Netoya – which introduces the different Guyanese Jumbies. The jumbie is a Caribbean colloquial for ghost and is representative of reconfiguring narratives of the past within the present. Originally a solo performance, An Exercise in Exorcism has been re-conceived for three dancers to be performed in the neo-classical main hall of the former Royal Exchange in GoMA, illuminating the building as another haunted site of this complex history Harris is exploring.

An Exercise in Exorcism has been supported by Glasgow City Heritage Trust and Art Fund’s Respond and Reimagine Fund.

It is dream to be working with two inspiring dancers and collaborators  in the main gallery space in GoMA to explore our Caribbean heritage through movement. The work we are doing together centres on finding joy in movement and allowing the kinaesthetics ghosts and personal histories in our bodies to reveal themselves and begin a conversation with the complex and often painful colonial legacies present in this opulent gallery space. 

Ashanti Harris, November 2021

An Exercise in Exorcism will be performed at GoMA on Saturday 20 November at 4pm. It is free to attend but tickets must be booked in advance.

Performed by Ashanti Harris, Jessica Paris and KJ Clarke-Davis
Lighting and technical support from Michaella Fee
With special thanks to Netoya of Veritas Maat sees thru the veil youtube channel.
Photo credit Isobel Lutz Smith

Ashanti Harris is a multi-disciplinary artist and researcher based in Glasgow. Working with dance, performance, facilitation, film, installation and writing, Ashanti’s work disrupts historical narratives and reimagines them from a Caribbean diasporic perspective. As part of her creative practice, she is co-director of the dance company Project X – platforming dance of the African and Caribbean diaspora in Scotland; and works collaboratively as part of the collective Glasgow Open Dance School (G.O.D.S) – facilitating experimental movement workshops and research groups. She is also lecturer in Contemporary Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and co-facilitates the British Art Network research group The Re-Action of Black Performance.

Recent commissions and exhibitions include: JUMBIES, Glasgow International, Glasgow (2021); This Woman’s Work, Third Horizon Film Festival, Miami (2021); Radio Space, Borealis Festival, Bergen (2021); Miraculous Noise, Viborg Kunsthal, Viborg (2021); OHCE, Radiophrenia, 87.9fm (2020); Being Present, OGR, Torino (2020); In The Open, The Common Guild, Glasgow (2020); The Index Impulse, Alchemy Film Festival, Hawick (2020); Pre-Ramble, David Dale, Glasgow (2020); The Skeleton of a Name, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2019); Second Site, Civic Room, Glasgow (2019); Walking Through the Shadows Eyes Open, SUBSOLO Laboratório de Arte, Sao Paolo, (2019)

Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)
Situated in the heart of the City Centre, GoMA is Scotland’s most visited modern and contemporary art gallery displaying work that highlights the interests, influences and working methods of artists from around the world. The building GoMA is housed in has been a focus for recent commissions and work due to its ties with the trans Atlantic slave trade and Empire. The building started out as a mansion for William Cunninghame of Lainshaw (1731 – 1799). Cunninghame had ties with chattel slavery through his interest in American tobacco, and in later years, Caribbean sugar.

As Glasgow’s Georgian New Town developed as a business quarter, Cunninghame sold his house to John Stirling in 1789. Stirling then sold the house in 1817 to the Royal Bank of Scotland.  The branch closed in 1827, when the Royal Bank of Scotland sold the building to subscribers to Glasgow’s Royal Exchange. James Ewing of Strathleven led this scheme to create the Royal Exchange and through his connections and those of other subscribers, the building retained a link with the chattel slavery on plantations. Ewing was an enslaver with business interests and investments in Jamaican sugar. He had architect David Hamilton make radical changes to the building for the new Exchange, adding a portico, the great hall and cupola.  In the Exchange, Glaswegian businessmen met to trade commodities including sugar and cotton, which were produced using the labour of enslaved African people.

Open Monday – Thursday and Saturday 10 – 5, Friday and Sunday 11 – 5 @GlasgowMuseums

GoMA at 25 
Part of GoMA at Home – an externally funded public programme of artist commissions, performances, workshops and event exploring the impact of Covid-19 on our understanding of equalities, particularly in light of Black Lives Matter; access to public and private space both physical and online access; climate change and our current environmental challenges; and migration – both historical and current. It invites audiences to engage, converse, and reflect on this historic moment and forms a key part of the 25th anniversary programme at GoMA.

Taking its starting point from the GoMA building’s history as the home of an 18th Century Tobacco Lord, a Royal Exchange and a library – At Home will complement the museum’s wider engagement programme and create new opportunities for a diverse group of artists and audiences. It will also inform and be part of the exhibition programme for 2021/22 which will visibly demonstrate Glasgow Museums’ commitment to commission new work that responds to race, class, gender and climate change by key artists working in Glasgow now.

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