Brow of a God/Jaw of a Devil: Unsettling the Source of the Nile
19 November 2021 – 13 March 2022
Orleans House Gallery
An exhibition of new images by Himali Singh Soin with historian of science Alexis Rider, inspired by the collection of Sir Richard Burton.
Burton’s search for the source of the Nile is considered the epitome of nineteenth century Imperial exploration. However, the expedition is steeped in colonial notions of place and otherness. It is also the story of an environment that steadfastly resists being known. Alexis and Himali will interrogate Burton’s search for the Nile. They will bring the river and its landscape, both real and imagined, to the foreground.
The exhibition presents a series of photographs that contain ghosts and shadows of the Burton collection. The images can be viewed alongside an accompanying text drawn from many sources, which offers an interpretive starting point for the images. Visitors are invited to explore archives, contested histories, and the nature of human and more-than-human relationships.
Like the Nile, the exhibition will be fluid, malleable, and redirectable by the visitor. With each adjustment, narratives will shift.
A special late night opening on Friday 19 November will feature a performance by violinist Blaize Henry. Beyond the River is a semi-improvisational work that explores the beauty, complexity and mystery of water, our human connection to it, and the power it wields as the source of life on earth. The event is free but pre-booking is required.
Listen to the exhibition text, narrated by Nephertiti Schandorf, here: Audio Recordings
To find out more about Burton and the collections held by Orleans House Gallery take a look at our collection pages.
About the Artists:
Himali Singh Soin is an artist and poet. Her works dissect the environments around and beyond her by amassing materials—literary, archival, anecdotal—to metaphorically reflect on human engagement and disengagement with the natural world. She has exhibited at Serpentine Park Nights, Somerset House and Mimosa House, London; Migros Museum, Zurich; Yarat Contemporary, Baku; Gropius Bau, Berlin and Dhaka Art Summit among others. Her art writing appears regularly in Artforum and other major arts publications. She was the recipient of the 2019 Frieze Artist Award.
Alexis Rider is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research is situated between the history of science, environmental history, and the environmental humanities, and focuses particularly on the geosphere and cryosphere as sites of theorization and knowledge-making. In addition to her academic work, Alexis engages in artistic collaborations that explore human conceptions of the environment. In 2022, she will join the Institute of Historical Research at London’s School of Advanced Studies as a postdoctoral scholar.
As an artist and composer Blaize Henry enjoys blending a broad range of musical genres and mediums to create complex, luscious soundscapes. His most recent performance art pieces make use of spoken word, improvisation, jazz harmony and digital manipulation to explore themes such as race, gender, sexuality and desire in an increasingly divided world. He enjoys a varied career as an orchestral musician, chamber music player and teacher, having toured the UK and Europe with numerous ensembles.
Curatorial/Care and narration provided by Nephertiti Oboshie Schandorf, a producer of site responsive performance, audio and moving image works. Her practice is one that actively seeks collaboration and is informed by the formation of protective networks and cultural archives. Nephertiti has worked on large-scale and high-profile projects with leading arts organisations including the Manchester and Whitworth Galleries, Art on the Underground, Somerset House, the Singapore Biennale and the City of London. In spring 2021, she was appointed as the Artistic Director of Peckham Platform, a creative and educational charity founded in South London.