The Women of Colour Index (WOCI) Reading Group aims to improve visibility for women of colour artists whilst using material in the library and archive to generate discussion and practice around current social and political concerns.
In these collaborative monthly research sessions at Tate, WOCI will draw upon the Panchayat Special Collection during its anniversary year; collectively exploring and highlighting the unique material within this vital collection of rare publications and exhibition ephemera from the 1980s.
About the Panchayat Special Collection
Panchayat was co-founded by Shaheen Merali and Allan de Souza in 1988, after consultation with artists Bhajan Hunjan, Symrath Patti, and Shanti Thomas. Panchayat was first organised by its co-founders as a project based arts organisation whose focus was to create an archive of works by contemporary artists who produced issue-based work, often in relation to developing and addressing plurality in multicultural environments. As Panchayat developed it was involved in publishing, curating exhibitions, programming conferences, and workshops.
The Panchayat Collection consists of documentation and reference library material relating to the cultural activities and activism predominantly in Britain, mainland Europe, North America and SE Asia between the 1980s and 2003. The Panchayat archive’s collecting strategy focused on the growing interactions within a globalising artworld of Black and Asian artists, as well documenting their commitment to the intersection between race, class, gender, policed sexualities, and (dis)ability. Dr Janice Cheddie and Shaheen Merali were keepers of the Panchayat Archive at the University of Westminster 2002 -2015 and remain central to its future development.
In May 2015 the contents of the collection were donated to the Tate Library as part of its Special Collection and since then has attracted researchers from both the arts and the humanities, including newer audiences that are interested in diasporic connections, Black and Asian British artists 1988- 2003, curatorial practices that emerged in the late eighties and in the role of women of colour in the visual arts and education.
All people of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, religions and race are welcome.
About the WOCI Reading Group
The Women of Colour Index Reading Group was set up in October 2016 by artists, Samia Malik, Michelle Williams Gamaker and Rehana Zaman. WOCI sessions have focused on seminal exhibitions such as Testimony: Three Black Women Photographers (1986) and The Image Employed: the Use of Narrative in Black art (1987), and artists such as Zarina Bhimji, Martina Attile, Jagjit Chuhan, Sharon Curtis, Nina Edge, Maxine Walker, Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce and Chila Kumari Burman.
WOCI follow keenly in the footsteps of Rita Keegan who compiled the index and Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Lauren Craig, Mystique Holloway, Gina Nembhard and Zhi Holloway, who as the formidable art and art research collective X Marks the Spot (XMTS), took WOCI as the focus for their residency at the Women’s Art Library in 2012 culminating in the publication Human Endeavour.
Michelle Williams Gamaker
Michelle Williams Gamaker is a London-based artist working with moving image and performance. Her latest project is The Eternal Return, the third film in a trilogy exploring the idea of 'brown protagonists'. The Fruit is There to be Eaten (2018) and House of Women (2017), are revisionist explorations of British directors Powell & Pressburger's female protagonists in Black Narcissus (1947). Upcoming screening and exhibtions include the BFI’s LGBT+ Flare Film Festival, Library Interventions: Moving Knowledge in Leeds and Solitary Pleasures at Freud Museum London. She also has two feature films in development: The Imperial and Violet Culbo (with Film London (FLAMIN) and the Cross Channel Film Lab).
Samia Malik is an artist and designer. In 2002, she launched her clothing label: Samia Malik ihtgw, that was independently sold worldwide. In 2004, she studied MA Womenswear at Central St Martins. In 2007, she designed for musician MIA at the release of her second album 'Kala'. Between 2012 - 2014, she studied MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths University. Between 2013 - 2014, with artist Indra Morodor she ran an independent gallery in Tower Hamlets, where she regularly curated art exhibitions, and one of the last exhibitions in gallery was a fundraiser for Palestine. Since then central focus of her art practice has been focused on issues of social justice.
Rehana Zaman is an artist based in London working with moving image and performance. Her work speaks to the ways in which social dynamics are produced and performed, taking up the entanglement of personal experience and social life where intimacy is framed against the hostility of state legislation, surveillance and control. Solo exhibitions include ‘Speaking Nearby’ CCA Glasgow, ‘Tell me the story Of all these things’ (Tenderpixel, London), ‘Some Women, Other Women and all the Bittermen’ (The Tetley, Leeds, 2014) and ‘I, I, I, I and I’ (Studio Voltaire, London, 2013).