Brent Biennial announces curatorial theme, artists and programme for the second edition

7 April 2022

In the House of my Love, Brent Biennial 2022, 8 July – 11 September 2022. Illustration by Mohammed Zaahidur Rahman, 2022.

Press Release:

Metroland Cultures today announces further details of the second edition of the Brent Biennial, which takes place from 8 July - 11 September 2022. Titled In the House of my Love, after a line in Ezra Green’s A Poem to the Nationalist Marcher (For the Queer People of Warsaw), the Biennial will bring together artists and community groups whose work proposes various strategies for homemaking within the context of hostile environments.

The Biennial will feature projects by artists Arwa Aburawa & Turab Shah, Rasheed Araeen, Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, Rebecca Bellantoni, Ed Webb-Ingall, Linett Kamala, Mahmoud Khaled, Zinzi Minott, Shenece Oretha, Katarzyna Perlak, Mohammed Zaahidur Rahman and Sarah Rose, and will showcase four community-led commissions in collaboration with Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons' Trust, Asian Women’s Resource Centre, SUFRA Foodbank and Kitchen and Young Roots.

Led by Eliel Jones, Curator, and working closely with a curatorial committee consisting of artists Adam Farah, Jamila Prowse and Abbas Zahedi, the 2022 Brent Biennial pays homage to the many histories and legacies of migration that have made Brent both the second most ethnically diverse borough in London, and a local authority with one of the highest numbers of first-generation migrants in the country.

Central to the project is a desire to reflect on ten years since the implementation of the Hostile Environment policy in the UK; a damaging set of legislative and administrative measures affecting primarily migrant and non-white communities, which have in many ways dovetailed with increasingly nationalist, xenophobic and racist political and cultural agendas in Britain.

In the House of my Love will explore individual and community practices of making homes as forms of resistance and survival—seeking to recognise the material and immaterial systems of support, safety and hospitality that are currently present in Brent, revisiting other systems that are close to the borough’s past and working to visualise and conceive new ways forward.

Setting out to dissect the insidious nature of oppression, and to highlight the value of intersectionality and solidarity across differences, the 2022 Brent Biennial recognises the fact that communities in Brent have been creating change for a long time, and invites artists to reflect on, collaborate with and amplify this ongoing work.

Taking place in three cluster locations in the south of the borough—Kilburn, Willesden, and Harlesden— the Biennial will feature 12 artists’ projects, sited in 12 different venues and public spaces. It will also facilitate four community-led commissions that will extend beyond the Biennial exhibition dates, as well as four public artworks by Brent-based artists, commissioned via open call-in partnership with BUILDHOLLYWOOD and Studio Voltaire, to be presented on billboards across the boroughs of Brent and Clapham. Further artists and practitioners from Brent and beyond will be able to participate in the Biennial through an extended programme of activity with local partners, and through the public programme.

Curator Eliel Jones says: “The artists and community groups that have been invited to participate in the second edition of the Brent Biennial so far all speak in various ways to the immigrant, feminist and queer traditions that have for a long time nurtured a sense of home outside or away from home, in Brent and beyond. These are practices that are built within friendship, chosen families, love and collaboration, and they offer antidotes to patriarchal, white supremacist, capitalist, heteronormative and ableist systems of power”.

The Curatorial Committee, comprised of artists Adam Farah, Jamila Prowse and Abbas Zahedi, further added: “At a time of continuous displacement of migrants and increasing hostility towards marginalised communities, it feels important to actively reflect on the social and political questions of home and belonging that are central to In the House of my Love. When working together with Eliel, we have been guided by the spirit of hosting that was embedded in his proposal, but that is also particular to Brent, where different communities have independently facilitated their own spaces of cultural gathering and ritual practice for many years. Eliel’s and our response was to implement a similar methodology of hosting as practice, whilst also recognising each of our positions as different types of guests in the borough.”

Metroland Cultures Chair of Trustees, Cllr Krupesh Hirani, says: “The second iteration of the Brent Biennial will be the first major project for Metroland Cultures since delivering Brent 2020, the London Borough of Culture Programme. At its centre is our mission to build, maintain and share art and culture in Brent by supporting and amplifying the communities who are already telling their stories of life in this part of London, and by collaborating with others, beyond the borough, to help tell new ones. Brent is a place that welcomes people from all over the world, and In the House of my Love poignantly evokes that truth. Wherever you are, we look forward to welcoming you to the 2022 Brent Biennial.”

Community-led commissions

In the House of my Love is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the gifts brought to light and shared by communities across Brent, through a collaborative commissioning process with four organisations that have been identified as part of the Brent Biennial 2022 project: Asian Women’s Resource Centre, Sufra Foodbank and Kitchen North West London, Young Roots and Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons' Trust.

Curator Eliel Jones says: “The work of these organisations and community groups facilitates invaluable experiences of homemaking and belonging in the borough. They provide lifelines of support which often extend beyond the communities who built them, or for whom they were originally built, intersecting with other people and other struggles in wider efforts of responding to hostile or unwelcoming environments.”

Most of the community-led commissions will extend beyond the Biennial dates and be realised in the long-term life of Metroland Cultures. The projects are being developed and chosen in consultation with communities in the borough through a series of artist-facilitated workshops to identify the desires of these community groups and their constituents, the possibilities that can be brought forward when working with artists and the offerings that may be realised in the context of the Biennial and beyond.

Supporting Brent-based artists

Alongside the Biennial, Metroland Cultures will deliver an expanded programme of activity that facilitates and builds collaboration between local artists and communities, including two new programmes: Metroland Young Associates, a paid creative career development opportunity for young people in Brent, and Metroland Cohort: Peer-to-Peer, a programme to support visual artists in the borough through bursaries and professional development.

Responding to the need for further opportunities for artists in Brent, Metroland Cultures today also announced an open call for Brent-based artists to submit proposals for four public artworks, to be commissioned for presentation on high-street billboards in Brent and Clapham, as part of the 2022 Brent Biennial programme. These four billboard commissions are made possible through a partnership with street advertising specialists Jack Arts, part of the BUILDHOLLYWOOD family, who support art and culture projects in public spaces across the UK, and with Studio Voltaire, who will host two of the billboards close to their organisation in Clapham—facilitating opportunities for Brent-based artists to garner visibility and develop network-building beyond the borough.

Further collaborations with Brent-based arts organisations, including Harlesden High Street and ActionSpace, will provide additional opportunities for local artists to participate in the extended Biennial programme.

2022 Brent Biennial identity

The visual identity for the 2022 Brent Biennial is being developed by Marwan Kaabour as Lead Designer, with commissioned illustrations by artist Mohammed Zaahidur Rahman, who is also participating in the Biennial programme. These illustrations will unfold in various stages and forms during the run-up to the exhibition, creating a final hero image that responds to the Biennial’s title, In the House of my Love, after Ezra Green’s A Poem to the Nationalist Marcher (for the Queer People of Warsaw), 2018.

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Metroland Cultures’ programme is made possible with the generous support of the London Borough of Brent, the National Lottery Communities Fund and the John Lyons Foundation.

For full details of the Brent Biennial programme, visit: https://metrolandcultures.com/whats happening/programmes/brent-biennial/

We have also created a resource to answer Frequently Asked Questions, click here to view.

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NOTES TO EDITORS:

For further information, please contact:

Mary Doherty / Jennifer Kibazo

Mary@sam-talbot.com / Jennifer@sam-talbot.com

About Metroland Cultures

Metroland Cultures works to build, maintain and share art and culture in Brent. We amplify and support the communities who are already telling their stories of life here in Brent, and work with artists and ideas to help tell new ones.

We create arts biennials and music festivals; set up paid creative development schemes for our young people; and support artists with commissions across the borough. We build long-term partnerships with grass-roots organisations across the borough, supporting communities to work with artists to make changes they want to see in Brent.

We are called Metroland Cultures because there’s far more than one culture in Brent. We came out of Brent’s year as London Borough of Culture 2020, which brought our communities together to tell their stories to the world.

https://metrolandcultures.com/

About London Borough of Brent

Brent is a tremendously vibrant London borough where the iconic arch of Wembley Stadium dominates the skyline. Spanning both inner and outer London, it is a borough of huge contrasts in terms of its economic, environmental, ethnic and social make up. Brent’s diversity is evident to all who visit our borough and our long history of ethnic and cultural diversity has created a place that is truly unique and valued by those who live and work here.

In 2020 Brent was the London Borough of Culture (Brent 2020), engaging and empowering the community through cultural experiences and showcasing the borough to national and international audiences. The council is committed to creating a culturally confident borough that is aware of its unique cultural power by including it as key elements in its borough plan.

https://www.brent.gov.uk/

Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons' Trust

Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust is London’s biggest LGBT+ youth charity, serving the community through the delivery of outstanding services and events. Mosaic Trust runs Pride Prom, Homoween as well as offering youth club, mentoring and counselling, making sure to supports LGBT+ young people holistically. It’s our mission to support, educate and inspire in order to build a proud, strong, cohesive LGBT+ community that is healthy, safe and thriving.

https://www.mosaictrust.org.uk/

About Asian Women’s Resource Centre

The AWRC is a grassroots charity specialising in delivering services for black and minority ethnic women experiencing domestic abuse. Established in 1980, we offer culturally sensitive practical and emotional support in 16 languages, including information on housing, legal advice, access to counselling and advocacy. Working closely with local partners, our aim is to provide a better future for women and their children to help them achieve greater social and economic independence, enabling wider integration into mainstream society.

https://www.asianwomencentre.org.uk/

About SUFRA NW Foodbank and Kitchen

Sufra NW London is a Brent-based charity established in 2013 to address both the causes and consequences of impoverishment in the community. Based on St. Raphael’s Estate, Brent’s most disadvantaged neighbourhood, our Community Hub provides a lifeline for people in crisis—including families living in extreme poverty and people who are vulnerable, homeless and socially isolated. We provide our ‘guests’ with the food and support they urgently need to survive, empower them to learn new skills and improve their wellbeing and help them find work and become financially stable. By working together and harnessing the goodwill of our neighbours, we build a stronger community where no one suffers alone in silence.

https://www.sufra-nwlondon.org.uk/

About Young Roots

Young Roots is a London-based charity working with young refugees and asylum seekers aged 11-25, most of whom are alone in the UK without their families. We support young people to improve their wellbeing and fulfil their potential, through intensive one-to-one casework, youth and sporting activities, English language mentoring, youth leadership and access to specialist therapeutic and legal advice.

https://www.youngroots.org.uk/

About Studio Voltaire

Studio Voltaire is one of the UK’s leading not-for-profit arts organisations. Placing great emphasis on risk-taking and experimentation, our pioneering programmes of exhibitions, collaborative projects, artist development, live events and offsite commissions have gained an international reputation.

Studio Voltaire was founded in 1994 by a collective of twelve artists, who set up a studio space in a disused tram shed on Voltaire Road, Clapham. An artist-centered approach remains at the core of our work. We are creating an essential artists’ community and resource in South London; our current site on Nelsons Row affords a significant level of support, providing much-needed affordable and accessible studios for a diverse range of individual and collective practices. Our growing studio and residency programmes forefront artists-led development, research, experimentation and production, and provide opportunities for our audiences to engage with this process.

Studio Voltaire commissions a wide range of ongoing and collaborative projects. We work with artists, organisations, schools, colleges and communities to create contexts for people to share and collaborate, while also supporting critical engagement and lifelong learning. We often work beyond the walls of the gallery, initiating projects in the public realm and supporting artists to work in unconventional spaces and in new social and cultural contexts.

https://www.studiovoltaire.org/

About BUILDHOLLYWOOD

BUILDHOLLYWOOD celebrates our magical cities, brimming with all sorts of people, lifestyles and culture. By developing street level poster space in carefully curated locations across the UK they place creativity in the heart of our cities. Built on an art school mentality that stretches back decades to their founder, they have a collection of talented agencies – DIABOLICAL, JACK and JACK ARTS who specialise in their sectors to produce street level poster campaigns, creative billboards, hand painted murals, interactive installations, ambient and unique experiential campaigns to create authentic interactions with people on the street. This combination of format, creativity and position is unique to BUILDHOLLYWOOD and is the reason why they work and collaborate with the most exciting brands, artists and creative institutions in the world. BUILDHOLLYWOOD are the creative street advertising specialists.

https://www.buildhollywood.co.uk/