27 September 2022 – 4 June 2023
Supported by the JMW Turner with Lamin Fofana: Dark Waters Exhibition Supporters Group with additional support from Mylands and Tate Liverpool Patrons
JMW Turner with Lamin Fofana: Dark Waters focuses on the power and politics of the sea. Tate Liverpool’s location on the city’s waterfront, combined with the city’s maritime history, provides the perfect context to consider Turner (1775–1851) afresh. Conveying the intensity and diversity of life on the ocean, Turner’s work will be presented for the first time within an immersive sound environment created by artist Lamin Fofana (b.1982).
Almost a third of Turner’s works feature the sea, from the paintings that first established his reputation to his late experimental canvases. By the end of his life, Turner had defined an entirely new marine aesthetic in British art and beyond. The exhibition features paintings, sketchbooks, and works on paper by Turner that capture a time of great change in our island’s relationship with its surrounding coast. The exhibition includes some of Turner’s most celebrated seascapes, works such as Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth exhibited 1842, A Disaster at Sea c.1835, and Sunrise with Sea Monsters c.1845, which encapsulate Turner’s ability to convey the jeopardy of life at sea.
As part of Tate’s commitment to open up new perspectives on British art, the exhibition will feature the work of Lamin Fofana, who translates the writing of pioneering black authors into sound. The Sierra Leonean-born artist and musician currently lives in New York, and his work explores questions of movement, migration, alienation and belonging. Fofana’s Life and Death by Water 2021 is partly based on the writing of pioneering black writer, academic and activist W. E. B. Du Bois, specifically his radical literary work of 1920, Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil.
Turner’s paintings focus on the dangers of the waters around the British coast, while Fofana’s immersive sound work looks across the Atlantic, uncovering the horrors of the middle passage and, in particular, the infamous massacre aboard the slave ship Zong, when 132 Africans were thrown overboard. Although creating work centuries apart, both artists convey the power and politics of the ocean, and its relationship to capitalism and colonialism.
JMW Turner with Lamin Fofana: Dark Waters is curated by Laura Bruni, Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool with Ammarah Saleem, Exhibitions Trainee.