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Curating Contemporary Art (MA)

Jarelle Francis

The reciproCITY​ project proposal was developed in response to a brief from Artangel. We sought to expose the effects of "intentional" displacement caused by the lack of social housing in London and create awareness around the need for meaningful placement for those affected. 

According to an independent study by the London Tenants Organisation, London has had over 22,000 social housing buildings knocked down over the past ten years. As a result, affordable housing has become scarce. Instead of restoring, the city has been focused on demolishing.

We have chosen to ground our public display in the notion of “home,” concentrating on the themes of displacement, migration, multi-generational households, gentrification, upheaval, etc. We do this by presenting a domestic environment in which each object represents something that could possibly exist in a multi-generational home. The objects in the room and the art on the walls symbolise themes that have generated the reciproCITY project. We are inviting the viewer to use this room as a reference point to experience the realities that exist around the housing crisis.

In our public display, we present work by a poet Phoenix Yemi, alongside Giles Watkins a ceramicist. On the screen in our display, we will show short films from Do Ho Suh and Jermaine Francis. We have also programmed a panel discussion with photographer Jermaine Francis, artist Harold Offeh, and social housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa, to join us in discussing the lack of affordable housing in London from various perspectives. We will end our live display with a film screening of Ayo Akingbade’s Jitterbug (2022).

Curated by: Byunghun Jun Chae, Alicia DeLarge, Xinran Fang, Jarelle Francis, Franziska Hanke, Luyan Li and Fetine Sel Tuzel.

Jarelle Francis at exhibition 20X20 VISION

I believe the arts are an integral component in building an egalitarian society where we centre the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. This cannot be achieved if we do not venerate the voices of marginalised demographics. 

Without challenging the establishment, society stagnates. Progress is often made when artists are given a platform to shape narratives. In 2022, I founded VISUAL ARTS LONDON- my aim is to showcase contemporary arts in a manner which pushes the boundaries of what is happening within the arts at the moment, but also combines engagement with people underrepresented and often precluded from conversations.

Throughout my curatorial journey I have worked with young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and tried to challenge the idea of what a curator *should* do. As part of Kensington and Chelsea Art Week in 2022, I produced a one off theatre play called “YARD TALES” which was an extension of the photographic exhibition “MY YARD” which displayed children's photographs from an estate which was about to be demolished. In 2021, “THE SIGHTS & SOUNDS OF GEN Z” was a music event and public photography exhibition held for local young people.

My shows have also highlighted pressing issues of the time; “WHAT A WASTE” 2022 was a social commentary piece on the climate emergency, where I closed the gallery and “reversed” the gallery wall by putting the artworks on the outside susceptible to the natural elements. Just Stop Oil recently made headlines by throwing soup on a Van Gogh. There was outrage, but little did people know the work was protected by glass. Adversely, our planet is not being protected.

We may hate the idea of art being ruined, but why if we are so casual about ruining our planet?

This installation had over 80 artists, which then gave me an idea for a large group show which ended up showing over 100 artists in a small space. “20x20 VISION”(2023) where the only theme was the size of the works being 20cm x 20cm.

Curating so many pieces which spanned the mediums of photography, painting, textile, sculpture was a challenge which motivates me to step outside of traditional parameters more.

My BA is in Business and Business Entrepreneurship, and I have previously worked in fashion, owned my own vintage clothing company and have been a political activist. 

The breadth of experience is reflected in the many routes I wish to explore. I created a short play, a film, and I am currently working on symphony with several sound artists. Curating can take me anywhere which is what excites me! I am open and continually grateful for all the experiences with the artists and curators I have had- from the world leading established, to the emerging showing work for the first time, you all inspire me.








2023- 20X20 VISION