The arts agency putting Black artists, their needs and stories at the centre

Asia's Tech News Daily

Paul Reid is the founder of Disrupt Space, an agency which promotes emerging Black artists. (Picture: Elusade Elufowoju)

Words by Tammi Bello

Founder of the newly-established arts agency Disrupt Space and former director of the Black Cultural Archives, Paul Reid, has created a platform for emerging artists in the UK and across the globe. It is an arts agency with a difference – putting Black artists, their needs and stories at the centre.

“I'm fed up with knocking on the door and asking to come in. This time around, I felt that there needed to be a strong entity that could dictate some of the terms, be much stronger in its conversations with power, therefore become powerful itself and change the narrative.”

I had the chance to chat with Reid in the bustling Brixton market where Disrupt Space is based, and we got talking about who they are, what they're doing, and most of all, what they represent.

Read more: Why celebrate Black History Month? Perhaps ask yourself, why not?

Paul Reid with Bolanle Tajudeen, the founder of the educational platform Black Blossoms. (Picture: Elusade Elufowoju)

“We care for our artists, because of the culture of what we’ve created, we refer to each other as family, we speak about this as a family, we speak about this as a movement.” says Paul. (Picture: Elusade Elufowoju)

One of the many exciting projects in the pipeline for the artists he represents at Disrupt Space is creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These are unique digital identifiers recorded on a blockchain that tells the world who owns a particular asset. These are incredibly valuable in the art world as it makes digital artworks, made by digital artists, more difficult to copy.

As with many innovations, Black people can often be left behind or out of the conversation altogether. But Paul went against this, leading the discussion with NFTs. “Black artists or Black people generally start to experience change as we're catching up after the event. We're often the consumers of other people's products, and that's one of the cycles that I think is important for us to break, at this point, at the very early stages of NFT's. I thought it was important for us to find out what was going on, for us to inform our artists and provide them with the information that they need if they want to go down that road.”

Read more: Frustrated with the lack of Black haircare products available in Scotland, this woman created her own

At its heart, Disrupt Space is a platform for support. Its roster is made up of emerging visual artists, and helps give them a larger platform to continue to do the excellent work they do. This also gives them the potential to grow, so the company itself matures alongside the artists. What comes through here is that behind the scenes, Reid and the artists have built a relationship that caters to supporting their needs. Disrupt Space is whoever, and whatever, artists require at the time.

“We care for our artists, because of the culture of what we've created, we refer to each other as family, we speak about this as a family, we speak about this as a movement.” says Paul.

Boasting artists such as Gus Brooks-Simpson, Lola Betiku and Sharon Adebisi, the range of work produced is extensive. They are quickly becoming more established as is the organisation itself. “When the artist becomes more celebrated, I'd like to see the relationship change. So the artist almost becomes a mentor or guide for those less experienced artists that need their guidance. I come from a school of thought that there's no leaving Disrupt Space.”

Paul with writer Tammi Bello. (Picture: Elusade Elufowoju)

With Disrupt Space, Reid is challenging notions within the art world on numerous levels. One of these is the location of DS itself. It lies in the middle of Brixton market, sandwiched between greengrocers and butchers. It doesn't have the stuffy atmosphere of some galleries with commercial intent. It is welcoming and allows for discussion, even if you might not have a typical arts background.

Reid has a distinguished community-led practice, first displayed in his work at Black Cultural Archives (BCA) and now here at Disrupt Space. You don't often happen upon a gallery in the middle of a market. You see markets as spaces of trade, where people come to buy food. Many stalls are independent, and the consumers are from a working-class background, a group all too often left out of art conversations, and Disrupt Space is slowly trying to reconfigure that balance.

“I don't want us to be trying to enter a space where we're struggling to be appreciated. I think if Disrupt Space establishes itself in urban environments like we are here in Brixton market, where people who are walking past might not have that appreciation of the arts in the formal or traditional sense, but they're on their way,” says Paul.

Read more: Black History Month 2021: 10 best books by Black authors to put on our list

“Some people come to the market to buy their meat or fish; they wave as they pass the gallery. I want them to come in and tell me, 'That piece of work is amazing,’ and we're likely after that to have a conversation about the art being expensive; this is a key learning opportunity for all concerned. We can now have a conversation about valuing Black art, about our image and the way we are represented.”

“We can now have a conversation about valuing Black art, about our image and the way we are represented,” says Paul.

An example of some of the work on show. Paul wants to display work from artists who might not have had the traditional routes into the art world. (Picture: Elusade Elufowoju)

This multifaceted disruption brings in new collectors and artists alike, who might not have had the traditional routes into the art world and brings a kind of creative hub into a community setting. Art galleries can be tricky spaces to approach without feeling like you need training or education in the industry. But by placing it within a community narrative, it gives art the familiarity and ease of any other shop, allowing people to go in and browse and make their own judgements.

“There's such a range like that; sometimes it's artists that seek us out, it's the casual person walking by, it could equally be an organisation or an agency because we operate from the space. It's partly an office, it's also a workshop space, and it's also a gallery, and at some point, we will move towards this idea of virtual and digital spaces.”

Another layer of this disruption is the colour. Miles away from the traditional white cube, Disrupt Spaces’ walls are black and it is this that earns Disrupt Space its epithet. It is the epitome of the untraditional and gives space to celebrate Blackness and Black art – even the walls help tell its story.

“It gets attention, black pops as we know,’ explains Paul. ‘Interestingly, the general start point is often a white box or a blank sheet of paper, which is often white… but when we want to have a good time we look black, in fashion we look to black, everything was born from black.”

Read more: Black History Month: The words of 23 black activists from Martin Luther King to Maya Angelou

Disrupt Space is also disrupting the very idea of the specific language we use in the art world and putting the stories of the artists front and centre. In each of the artist's practices, this storytelling element brings their world view to the canvas, not being bound tightly by what the art world deems them to be. Each of the artists has radical selfhood, which can be seen in their vibrant, unique works.

“I celebrate when artists bring themselves to the party and when their own story comes into what it is that they're saying, and in some ways what happens is that language, that doesn't make you different to anybody else, it starts to fade, more vital for me is when they talk about the things they're are grappling with, what they are trying to create and are creating in their own words.”

For too long, the Black community has taken far too small a stake in the art world; this runs through from art schools to working artists, curators, collectors, and gallerists. Less than 10% of Londons' catalogue of more than 250 registered art institutions are Black-owned.

Paul chose to make the galleries black rather than white. “It gets attention, black pops as we know.” (Picture: Elusade Elufowoju)

Reid is therefore looking to turn that on its head by creating a platform for Black artists, developing the business with NFTs, being in a predominantly Black community and encouraging that community to leap into buying art. “Our stake in [the art world] as a Black community is minimal, in comparison to the global market. If we're constantly locked out of an industry where there are cultural values where people don't necessarily understand or appreciate your art because they haven't been trained in it, they might not understand it. How do we take a stronger stance in that new space?”

Disrupt Space makes a statement about the change; it is a strong, evolving Black entity, representing possibility. Looking back throughout Reid's career, his duty has long been to disrupt. He makes changes to institutions, and he goes as far as he can within them. I, for one, am incredibly excited to see the journey of the organisation in the future and just how far they progress.

“Each stage I've gone through, I've done with all good intention, but I've had to disrupt it, I stay for as long as I can, and I move on. Sometimes these are long periods, but when I look back, I see a tremendous difference that it now makes.”

Watch: Equality & The Hunt For Hair Products in Wales

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

U.S. House Jan.6 probe tells Meadows it has 'no choice' but to seek contempt charge

FILE PHOTO: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in Washington WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack told Mark Meadows, ... Read more »

Jamal Adams will have season-ending surgery in another Seahawks setback

Seahawks star safety Jamal Adams will reportedly undergo season-ending surgery. Adams tore his labrum and suffered additional significant shoulder damage in Sunday’s win against the 49ers, according to Ian Rapoport ... Read more »

Closing arguments set to begin in Jussie Smollett trial

CHICAGO — Closing arguments are set to begin Wednesday in the trial against former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, who is accused of staging an anti-gay, racist attack against himself in ... Read more »

Boris Johnson ‘throws staff under the bus' with latest Christmas party comments

© Provided by Extra.ie Boris Johnson has announced an investigation after a video showed his staff joking about an alleged Christmas party last year, while London was under a COVID-19 ... Read more »

Mbappe says Messi is 'best player in the world' after CR7 admission

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Kylian Mbappe has now insisted that Lionel Messi is ‘the best player in the world’ after saying earlier this year he has often ... Read more »

Priti Patel's Policing Bill is just the start – as a war reporter I saw how human rights can be whittled away

© Provided by The i Home Secretary Priti Patel has slipped in 18 new pages of targeted anti-protest amendments (Photo: Charlotte Graham – WPA Pool/Getty) You know that bit in Harry ... Read more »

Decision to approve controversial Galway City Ring Road 'bizarre', Green Party senator says

© Arup via N6RingRoad.ie The approved N6 ring road in red would loop 18km around the north of Galway city. THE TRANSPORT MINISTER has “noted” the approval of the Galway ... Read more »

Mahu Undi18 dikuatkuasa pada PRN Sarawak, 3 anak muda fail semakan kehakiman

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Semakan kehakiman itu bagi mendapatkan arahan atau perintah bersifat (mandamus) yang memaksa responden, Pendaftar Pilihan Raya Sarawak dan SPR mengambil langkah segera memastikan pemohon ... Read more »

Rad-Star Hirschi im Geschwindigkeitsrausch: «Auf der Geraden hatte ich 240 Sachen drauf»

© PhotoFizza «Auf der Geraden hatte ich 240 Sachen drauf» Marc Hirschi (23) liebt die Geschwindigkeit. Während der Rennen donnert das Rad-Ass die Pässe oft mit mehr als 100 km/h ... Read more »

Liga lässt in den letzten zwei Super-League-Runden des Jahres keine Gästefans zu

© ALEXANDRA WEY/keystone-sda.ch Einsamer Fan im Letzigrund: Auch in den anderen Stadien wird es viele leere Plätze geben. Aufgrund der epidemiologischen Lage in der Schweiz verschärft die Swiss Football League ... Read more »

Liga verschärft Schutzkonzept – keine Gästefans bis Ende 2021

Diashow ein Die Schweizer Fussball-Liga reagiert auf die aktuelle Corona-Situation: Per sofort dürfen keine Gäste-Fans mehr ins Stadion bis Ende Saison. Ab sofort dürfen nur noch geimpfte und genesene Personen ... Read more »

Mom of Eli Fritchley, 12, says he killed himself after being told he had to go to school where he was called a ‘f*****'

PARENTS of a 12-year-old say their son endured anti-LGBTQ slurs and other bullying before he took his life. Debbey Fritchley experienced the unthinkable on November 28, when she found her ... Read more »

I adopted a ‘pet' rock when I was 8 – then I realised what it REALLY is & it makes me want to vomit

GROWING up, we couldn't go to the beach without sneaking a cool-looking pebble back in our pockets. But while we'd instantly lose interest as soon as we got home, TikToker ... Read more »

I had a sugar daddy who paid me $2K just to text him– he paid for concerts, home furniture, but I gave him to a friend

TEXTING with friends is something most of us do naturally…and for free.   But one woman revealed that she got paid $500 a week just to converse with an older ... Read more »

North Carolina Marine charged with shooting roommate in the neck

On Monday the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office charged a Marine with shooting his roommate in the neck, according to a statement released by the office. “Through eyewitness statements, evidence found ... Read more »

Why our children's handwriting is in crisis

Some experts think the handwriting problem is more acute at secondary school – E+ If your children’s Christmas wish lists are proving hard to decipher, pity their teachers who have ... Read more »

Jussie Smollett denies staging racist attack saying ‘There was no hoax'

Claim: Jussie Smollett says he did not pay two brothers to stage a racist attack (Getty Images) Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett has denied staging an anti-gay, racist attack on ... Read more »

How Allegra Stratton's struggles kept press briefing project off air

Allegra Stratton was supposed to help revolutionise UK government communications when she was appointed to host a daily White House-style press conference from Downing Street. In the end, the public ... Read more »

Afghanistan failure out of sight out of mind for UK Government uninterested in repercussions

Afghanistan is back in the news, meaning we all have to feel horrendous about it again. © People at an Afghan solidarity rally in Trafalgar Square, London, to oppose the ... Read more »

Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi draw World Chess Championship Game 10 – as it happened

LIVE – Updated at 15:28 © Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images Magnus Carlsen, left, and Ian Nepomniachtchi played to a quiet draw in Game 10 of their world championship match on ... Read more »

Mum fined £834 for breaking lockdown rules by babysitting kid in her bubble – just days before Downing Street Xmas party

A MUM was fined £834 for breaking lockdown rules after she babysat a child in her bubble – just days before Downing Street's Christmas party. Elizabeth MacKenzie, 47, and her ... Read more »

Celtic suffer major injury blow for Premier Sports Cup final against Hibs

Ange Postecoglou has confirmed that Portuguese star Jota will miss Celtic’s Premier Sports Cup final against Hibs. © Jota with Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou after going off with an injury ... Read more »

Ken-Betwa river linking project is 1st in India to get cabinet nod, move comes ahead of UP polls

© Provided by The Print New Delhi: Nearly four decades after it was conceptualised, India’s first river interlinking project, connecting Ken river in Madhya Pradesh with Betwa in Uttar Pradesh, ... Read more »

AFF Suzuki Cup: Singapore get second win in bruising 2-1 battle with Philippines

SINGAPORE — So far, so good. Singapore made it two wins out of two at the AFF Suzuki Cup after two rapid-fire second-half goals lifted them to a hard-fought 2-1 ... Read more »

New UAE weekend: Sunday brunches will be the new thing to do

Heads of food and beverage and entertainment outlets in the country have hailed UAE’s decision to adopt a four-and-a-half workweek system. Not only would longer weekends allow workers to spend ... Read more »

The implications of the two-nation theory

© Provided by Hindustan Times Pakistan has never been serious about building a cooperative relationship. In focusing on confrontation, and not walking the path of cooperation, it has paid a ... Read more »

Immigration process at airports takes about 12 mins, home ministry informs RS

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: The home ministry on Wednesday claimed that immigration function at airports takes the least time among the passenger clearance processes at ... Read more »

IIM CAT 2021: Answer key released at iimcat.ac.in; raise challenges till 11 December

© Provided by Firstpost IIM CAT 2021: Answer key released at iimcat.ac.in; raise challenges till 11 December The answer key for the Common Admission Test (CAT 2021) has been put ... Read more »

Do you think you're a massive MK Dons fan? Try score 100% on this quiz

© Provided by Football League World Carabao Cup – Third Round – Milton Keynes Dons v Liverpool After securing a 13th place finish in League One earlier this year, Milton ... Read more »

Middlesbrough set to secure deal for former Swansea figure

© Provided by Football League World andy scott Chris Wilder is set to make an addition to his backroom staff in the form of ex-Swansea City man Andy Scott, per ... Read more »

Amapiano proves staying power with 1.6bn TikTok views

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) With more than 1.6 billion views this year on social media platform TikTok, Amapiano has proved its staying power. The genre, which has taken ... Read more »

As climate 'net-zero' plans grow, so do concerns from scientists

© PETER PARKS Scientists and monitoring groups are growing increasingly alarmed at the slew of vague net-zero pledges that appear to privilege offsets and future technological breakthroughs over short-term emissions ... Read more »

AAP accuses Channi of having a secret deal with Badal in drugs case

© Provided by The Statesman AAP accuses Channi of having a secret deal with Badal in drugs case Aam Aadmi Party leader and Punjab co-in-charge Raghav Chadha on Wednesday alleged ... Read more »

[PICS] New luxury hotel in Khayelitsha will boost township biz, says proud CEO

© Provided by CapeTalk CEO Annette Skaap says Khayelitsha’s newly opened Spade Boutique Hotel will uplift the township economy The luxury establishment has been making headlines and officially opens its ... Read more »

10-year sentence for cigarette tax fraud: 'A good sign that SARS is on the mend'

© Provided by 702 The director of a South African company Oakbay Trading, Druvkumar Narendra Naik, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. The Johannesburg Regional Court found Naik ... Read more »

We must keep the scourge of obstetric violence in the spotlight – but it's the state's duty to tackle it

As we reach the end of this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, it is notable that for the first time in our ... Read more »

Transatlantic allies ramp up pressure on Russia over Ukraine

© Provided by dw.com Has Vladimir Putin bitten off more than he can chew? White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki minced no words ahead of the virtual meeting where President Joe ... Read more »

Where Tyson Fury is set to fight Dillian Whyte after Manchester United comments

Tyson Fury will likely take on Dillian Whyte in his mandatory defence of his world heavyweight title at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, rather than his preferred venue of Old Trafford. The ... Read more »

Meryl Streep thought her 'Don't Look Up' costar Jonah Hill was calling her a 'goat' — until Jennifer Lawrence explained what it really means

© Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty (L-R) Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and Jonah Hill at the “Don’t Look Up” world premiere in New York City. Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Throughout the movie’s press ... Read more »

Eskom wants Soweto residents to pay fine for reconnection

© Provided by eNCA JOHANNESBURG – Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Eskom’s representatives visited Diepkloof in Soweto in the wake of ongoing protests over electricity disconnections. The power utility wants ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic