111 episodes

EMPIRE LINES uncovers the unexpected, often two-way, flows of empires through art.

Interdisciplinary thinkers use individual artworks as artefacts of imperial exchange, revealing the how and why of the monolith ‘empire’.

Follow EMPIRE LINES on Instagram: instagram.com/empirelinespodcast

And Twitter: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines

TRANSCRIPTS: drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-pwfn4U_P1o2oT2Zfb7CoCWadZ3-pO4C?usp=sharing

MUSIC: Combinación // The Dubbstyle

PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic

EMPIRE LINES EMPIRE LINES

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

EMPIRE LINES uncovers the unexpected, often two-way, flows of empires through art.

Interdisciplinary thinkers use individual artworks as artefacts of imperial exchange, revealing the how and why of the monolith ‘empire’.

Follow EMPIRE LINES on Instagram: instagram.com/empirelinespodcast

And Twitter: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines

TRANSCRIPTS: drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-pwfn4U_P1o2oT2Zfb7CoCWadZ3-pO4C?usp=sharing

MUSIC: Combinación // The Dubbstyle

PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic

    Noko Y3 Dzen (There’s Something in the World) (2018–Now), Serge Attukwei Clottey (EMPIRE LINES Live at the Eden Project, Cornwall)

    Noko Y3 Dzen (There’s Something in the World) (2018–Now), Serge Attukwei Clottey (EMPIRE LINES Live at the Eden Project, Cornwall)

    Artist Serge Attukwei Clottey joins EMPIRE LINES live at the Eden Project in Cornwall, to discuss Afrogallonism, uplifting communities with upcycled plastic waste, and how the traditional Ghanaian harvest festival of Homowo challenges colonial hierarchies of gender.


    Accra-based artist Serge Attukwei Clottey works across installation, performance, photography, painting, and sculpture, exploring personal and political narratives rooted in histories of trade and migration. He refers to his practice with yellow plastic, Kufuor-era, cooking oil cans as ‘Afrogallonism’, using found and recycled materials to create a dialogue with the city’s cultural history and identity, whilst exploring the meanings that are invested in everyday objects, and how they circulate in local and global economies.

    Referencing Ghana’s historic wealth, a region known as the Gold Coast during British colonial rule during 19th and 20th century, Serge’s installations like Follow the Yellow Brick Road (2015-2020) also serve a practical function, in creating wealth and employment for the local community. On display alongside his existing work at the Eden Project is a new audio piece, a remembrance of famine that once befell pre-colonial Ghana, and is once again impacting farmers as a consequence of climate change.

    Serge talks about his family’s migration from city of Jamestown/Usshertown, in British Accra, to La (Labadi), on the coast, and how water has long infiltrated his practice. We discuss the realities of resource extraction and consumption captured by his work, connecting with the likes of Romauld Hazoumè, El Anatsui, Zina Saro-Wiwa, and Wura-Natasha Ogunji.

    Serge shares his interest in political performance art, and collaborating with young people. We open My Mother’s Wardrobe (2015-2016), in which Serge invited men to wear women’s clothes and make-up to perform everyday and ritual tasks, disrupting conventions of gender and sexuality imposed upon and appropriated by many African countries during colonial rule. And Serge talks about his commissions across the world, from Desert X, to Kew Gardens, and the National Portrait Gallery in London, where his Windrush Portrait of Mr. Laceta Reid proudly stands.

    This episode was recorded live at Reclaim - a weekend of talks and events at the Eden Project in Cornwall, curated to support mental and planetary wellbeing - in January 2024: edenproject.com/visit/whats-on/reclaim

    Acts of Gathering runs at the Eden Project in Cornwall until 14 April 2024. For more, hear curators Misha Curson and Hannah Hooks in the episode on Learning from Artemisia, Uriel Orlow and Orchestre Jeunes Étoiles des Astres (2019-2020): pod.link/1533637675/episode/0e8ab778b4ce1ad24bc15df3fec5a386



    For more about African masks and performance, listen to Osei Bonsu, curator of A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography at Tate Modern in London: pod.link/1533637675/episode/386dbf4fcb2704a632270e0471be8410



    About Ashanti Hare, and the south-west arts ecology, hear curator Ashish Ghadiali on Radical Ecology’s recent exhibition at KARST in Plymouth: pod.link/1533637675/episode/146d4463adf0990219f1bf0480b816d3



    For more ‘African’ textiles, hear Dr. Chris Spring on Thabo, Thabiso and Blackx, Araminta de Clermont (2010): pod.link/1533637675/episode/a32298611ba95c955aba254a4ef996dd



    And on sea/water as a historical archive, listen to these episodes on:

    John Akomfrah’s Arcadia (2023), at The Box in Plymouth: pod.link/1533637675/episode/31cdf80a5d524e4f369140ef3283a6cd

    Julianknxx’s Chorus in Rememory of Flight (2023), at the Barbican in London: pod.link/1533637675/episode/1792f53fa27b8e2ece289b53dd62b2b7



    WITH: Dr. Serge Attukwei Clottey, Accra-based visual artist.
    ART: ‘Noko Y3 Dzen (There’s Something in the World) (2018–Now)’.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES on Instagram: instagram.com/empirelinespodcast

    And Twitter: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

    • 1 hr
    Habitat, Taloi Havini (2017) (EMPIRE LINES x Artes Mundi 10, National Museum of Wales, Chapter)

    Habitat, Taloi Havini (2017) (EMPIRE LINES x Artes Mundi 10, National Museum of Wales, Chapter)

    Artist - and winner of Artes Mundi 10 - Taloi Havini mines connections between extractive industries in the Pacific Islands, and Wales. documenting the environmental damage caused by colonial, and patriarchal, relations with land, in Habitat (2017).

    The Panguna copper mine in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea was the largest in the world when it first opened in 1972. Run by the Australian mining company, Conzinc Riotinto, it symbolises how legacies of extraction - in colonialism, and contemporary capitalism - are often entangled. Born in Bougainville, and now based in Brisbane, Taloi Havini’s own multidisciplinary artistic practice is informed by her matrilineal ties to her land and communities. In Habitat, a three-channel, immersive video installation, Taloi follows the journey of a woman called Agata, as she continues to investigate the legacies of resource extraction in Panguna and the Pacific region. Moving from lush greens to lurid blue waters - unnatural colours which Taloi hasn’t tampered with in film - we trace the poisonous tailings, waste products of mining, that have destroyed the landscape.

    Taloi talks about how mining has ‘robbed’ people of sustainable ways of living, and how communities have come together to resist the imposition of destructive, gendered relationships to land. She describes various women as leaders, and shares her research-based practice, based on the intergenerational transfer of Indigenous Knowledge Systems,. Taloi details her work in ‘countermapping’, turning the same tools used by 19th century British settler-governments in Australia and New Zealand (Aoterea) for colonial discovery, plunder, and control, to showing evidence for those seeking environmental compensation. She also shares how her communities asked her to use drones, challenging the temporal othering of Indigenous identities.

    Acknowledging her particular identity from the Nakas Tribe of Hakö people, Taloi connects with the practices of other Pacific artists, and details her forthcoming curatorial project, Re-stor(y)ing Oceania at Ocean Space, part of the Venice Biennale. On her announcement as winner of Artes Mundi 10, the UK’s largest contemporary art prize, she connects with her contemporaries - including John Akomfrah, Rushdi Anwar, Alia Farid, and Naomi Rincón Gallardo - and the solidarity shared by this year’s participants, most of whom come from areas of conflict, in seeking peace with respect to the situation in Palestine. She also shares how the work translates as it travels, challenging stereotypes like the ‘tropicalisation’ of Pacific identities, by platforming everyday Indigenous and Black experiences and identities. And at the Prize announcement in Cardiff, we discuss how Habitat resonates in local communities in Wales, a nation with its own particular relationship with oil, gas, and coal resource extraction.

    Artes Mundi 10 runs at venues across Wales until 25 February 2024.

    RE/SISTERS: A Lens on Gender and Ecology ran at the Barbican in London until 14 January 2024, and travels to FOMU in Antwerp, Belgium until 14 August 2024.



    WITH: Taloi Havini, multidisciplinary artist based in Brisbane, Australia. She uses a range of media including photography, audio–video, sculpture, immersive installation and print, to probe intersections of history, identity, and nation-building within the matrilineal social structures of her birthplace in Arawa, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. Taloi is the curator of Re-Stor(y)ing Oceania: Latai Taumoepeau, Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta at Ocean Space, Venice (2024), and winner of Artes Mundi 10 (AM10), the UK’s leading biennial exhibition and international contemporary art prize, presented with the Bagri Foundation.

    ART: ‘Habitat, Taloi Havini (2017)’.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES on Instagram: instagram.com/empirelinespodcast

    And Twitter: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

    Support EMPIRE LINE

    • 18 min
    Freud: El Mago de los Sueños (The Wizard of Dreams), Vidas Ilustres Comic Book (1963)

    Freud: El Mago de los Sueños (The Wizard of Dreams), Vidas Ilustres Comic Book (1963)

    Jamie Ruers, Mariano Ben Plotkin, and Mariano Ruperthuz Honorato, from the Freud Museum in London, reinterpret psychoanalysis through 20th century Latin American pop culture, relocating the practice in radio shows, surrealist photographs, women’s magazines, and comic books from the 1960s, like Freud: El Mago de los Sueños (The Wizard of Dreams).

    Psychoanalysis is often considered a practice of the Global North, starting in Sigmund Freud’s home in Vienna before World War II. But South America has been at the forefront of the practice since the end of the 20th century, where it is is even more popular than Europe. So who are the figures who led - and simultaneously developed - such thinking? And how did Buenos Aires come to have the highest proportion of psychoanalysts in the world?

    Curator and researchers Jamie Ruers, Mariano Ben Plotkin, and Mariano Ruperthuz Honorato share how psychoanalysis permeated all layers of society, especially pop culture. They draw on existing traditions and new trends like magical realism, associated with Jorge Luis Borges. We discuss the ‘cultural complex’ of dreams and sex, and the difference between Freudism and psychoanalysis, highlighting histories of exchange and reinterpretation, agency and appropriation for economic gain, rather than simplying adoption or propagation, of Freud’s thinking. Beyond Spanish, Portuguese, both languages of colonial import, we consider the many ways Freud’s works were translated, and some of those he failed to credit, whose contributions have been written out of history, like Peruvian psychiatrist Honorio Delgado, Julio Pires Porto-Carrero, founder of the Society of Brazilian Psychoanalysis (1928), and disciple of Juliano Moreira, the son of a Black slave who picked up Freud’s ideas and circulated them throughout Brazil.

    We hear Gastão Pereira da Silva’s radio programmes, authored ‘in the vein of Dr. Frasier Crane’, and read women’s magazines like Idilio, illustrated by exiles like the German-Argentinian photographer Grete Stern, whose surrealist images highlight the intellectual interests and engagements of women, and shared experiences of migrants across continents. Plus, contemporary artworks and interventions in Freud’s former home in London challenge the exotification of South America, connecting the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of people both past and present.

    Freud and Latin America runs at the Freud Museum in London until 14 July 2024.



    For more from the Freud Museum in London, hear:

    Co-curators Miriam Leonard and Daniel Orrells on a Red-Figure Hydria of Oedipus and the Sphinx, Ancient Greece (380-360BCE), on EMPIRE LINES: pod.link/1533637675/episode/7a89c8d48acda4147d3d51c5a065b942



    And Professor Craig Clunas on a Pierced Jade Scholar Screen, China (19th Century), on EMPIRE LINES: pod.link/1533637675/episode/44861b4a5e6a32380693ec6622210890



    WITH: Jamie Ruers, art historian. Mariano Ben Plotkin and Mariano Ruperthuz Honorato, authors of Estimado Dr Freud: una cultura historia del psicoanálisis en América Latina (Edhasa, 2017), provides the narrative which guides the exhibition. They are the curator, and researchers, of Freud and Latin America.

    ART: ‘Freud: El Mago de los Sueños (The Wizard of Dreams), Vidas Ilustres Comic Book (1963)’.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES on Instagram: instagram.com/empirelinespodcast

    And Twitter: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines

    • 17 min
    The Madras College of Arts and Crafts, India (1850-Now) (EMPIRE LINES x The Noble Sage, Brunei Gallery)

    The Madras College of Arts and Crafts, India (1850-Now) (EMPIRE LINES x The Noble Sage, Brunei Gallery)

    Jana Manuelpillai revisits the Madras College of Arts and Crafts, the first British colonial art school set up in India, through the post-independence practice and striking monochrome works of A.P. Santhanaraj.

    The Madras College of Arts and Crafts in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, was the first art school in India, set up by the British colonial administrator in 1850. Post-independence in 1948, as the Government College of Arts and Crafts, teachers like K.C.S. Paniker and S. Dhanapal, and A.P. - Andrew Peter - Santhanaraj, transformed from the School, from its ‘Kensington style’ education, to focus on Indian influences. Historical attention has focussed on schools in Bombay, Baroda, Calcutta, and Delhi, but curator Jana Manuelpillai suggests that this actually let a more ‘authentic’ southern idiom to flourish - something he continues to explore with contemporary artists.

    Marking 55 years since Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, Jana shares footage from his meetings with the Santhanaraj, and outlines his plural influences, from Indian fresco painting to the art of Jackson Pollock. We discuss the diversity and deep practice of traditional religions in the south, and the differences between European primitivism and nativism, ‘othering’ the likes of Pablo Picasso. Plus, we discuss the globalisation of contemporary art markets, challenging London, New York, and Paris’ primacy, and the ‘stamps of approval’ they’ve granted diaspora artists past.

    A.P. Santhanaraj (1932-2009): Modern & Contemporary Art from South India ran at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS in London until 23 September 2023. You can find more at the Noble Sage Art Collection, online and in London.



    For more South Asian art histories, hear curator Hammad Nasar on Did You Come Here To Find History?, Nusra Latif Qureshi (2009), on EMPIRE LINES: pod.link/1533637675/episode/f6e05083a7ee933e33f15628b5f0f209

    And read more about the exhibition, Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now, at MK Gallery and The Box, in my article in gowithYamo: gowithyamo.com/blog/small-and-mighty-south-asian-miniature-painting-and-britain-1600-to-now-at-mk-gallery



    WITH: Jana Manuelpillai, Director of The Noble Sage Art Collection, which specialises in Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani contemporary art. He is the curator of A.P. Santhanaraj (1932-2009): Modern & Contemporary Art from South India.

    ART: ‘The Madras College of Arts and Crafts, India (1850-Now)’.

    IMAGE: Installation View.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES on Instagram: instagram.com/empirelinespodcast
    And Twitter: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines

    • 13 min
    Queer Feet, Osman Yousefzada (2023) (EMPIRE LINES x Charleston)

    Queer Feet, Osman Yousefzada (2023) (EMPIRE LINES x Charleston)

    Interdisciplinary artist Osman Yousefzada crafts stories of working-class migration experiences, unwrapping the influence of his mother and many other textile makers in his diaspora community in Birmingham.

    From large-scale textile works to prints and drawings, Osman Yousefzada’s practice considers representations and reimaginings of working class migration experience. Growing up in a British-Pakistani diaspora community in Birmingham in the 1980s, Yousefzada’s craft is grounded in his childhood experiences, watching his mother, ‘a maker’ of shalwar kameez and other textiles.

    A new exhibition at Charleston in Firle draws connections between these domestic, private spaces, the Bloomsbury group and fashion, and the artist’s public practice. We look at a new series of works on paper, on public display for the first time, inspired by characters in the Falnama, a book of omens used by fortune tellers in Iran, India and Turkey during the 16th and 17th centuries. At the time, people seeking insight into the future would turn to a random page and interpret the text; Yousefzada transposes this to the present day, to tell stories of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrants, and recreate such talismans that protect or heal and work as guardians of the immigrant experience.

    The artist describes his large-scale textile series, Queer Feet, Afghan rugs, topped with ceramic works, and embroidered with found objects that reference Islamic and Asian design histories. We discuss his expanded, Sufistic, spiritual practice. We also consider the healing potential of museums, and the various media used by the artist in storytelling, with his book, The Go-Between (2022).
    Osman Yousefzada runs at Charleston in Firle until 14 April 2024.

    For more, you can read my article in gowithYamo: gowithyamo.com/blog/osman-yousefzada-at-charleston-in-firle



    For more about the material power of embroidery, listen to curator Rachel Dedman on an UNRWA Dress from Ramallah, Palestine (1930s) at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge and the Whitworth in Manchester, on EMPIRE LINES: pod.link/1533637675/episode/92c34d07be80fe43a8e328705a7d80cb



    WITH: Osman Yousefzada, interdisciplinary artist and research practitioner at the Royal College of Art, London. He is a visiting fellow at Cambridge University, and Professor of Interdisciplinary Practice at the Birmingham School of Art. His first book, The Go-Between (2022), is published by Canongate. Alongside his solo exhibition at Charleston, he exhibits in group exhibitions including Embodiments of Memory at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent and Design Museum’s REBEL, and his Migrant Godx can be found at Claridge’s Art Space, Blackpool’s Grundy Art Gallery, and soon, Camden Art Centre, as part of Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2023. He will exhibit at the 60th Venice Biennale, and the V&A in London, in 2024.

    ART: ‘Queer Feet, Osman Yousefzada (2023)’.

    SOUNDS: ‘Home Grown - Osman Yousefzada x Selfridges’.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.

    Follow EMPIRE LINES on Instagram: instagram.com/empirelinespodcast

    And Twitter: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

    Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: patreon.com/empirelines

    • 13 min
    Learning from Artemisia, Uriel Orlow and Orchestre Jeunes Étoiles des Astres (2019-2020) (EMPIRE LINES x Eden Project)

    Learning from Artemisia, Uriel Orlow and Orchestre Jeunes Étoiles des Astres (2019-2020) (EMPIRE LINES x Eden Project)

    Curators Hannah Hooks and Misha Curson connect global environments and food practices, from guerrilla gardeners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to foragers in Palestine, challenging extractive, colonial approaches to land through contemporary art at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

    Artemisia afra – or African wormwood – is traditionally used as a medicine to prevent and treat malaria. This knowledge has long been passed down through generations and communities via music and craft, both marginalised in Western rational thought. In the 1970s, research to develop new anti-malarial drugs led to the discovery, extraction, and patenting of Artemisin - already used for two thousand years in China and Asia. Whilst still cultivated by some women’s cooperatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the plant, and its producers, have been continually suppressed and banned, by the Belgian colonial administration in the 19th century, to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Big Pharma businesses.

    With a multimedia installation of film, song, and tea tastings, Swiss artist Uriel Orlow seeks to platform these ongoing practices. He joins other contemporary artists in Acts of Gathering, a new exhibition at the Eden Project in Cornwall which explores how our relationship with food is linked with the land, environment, and labour that goes into its production. Harvest festivals in Homowo in Ghana and Guldize in Cornwall link the different practices of Serge Attukwei Clottey and Jonathan Baldock. Meanwhile, in Jumana Manna’s film FORAGERS (2022), we see how Israeli nature protection laws prohibit the foraging of native plants, alienating Palestinians from their land, and sustainable harvesting practices.

    Curators Misha Curson and Hannah Hooks connect traditions across cultures, acknowledging how human and planetary health are also entwined. We discuss legacies of extraction in science, botany, and renewed mining in Africa. Misha and Hannah suggest why some local methods are classed (and commodified) as sustainable, while others are marginalised by globalisation, industrial farming, and neoimperial hierarchies. Plus, we discuss the opportunities Eden presents for public participation, access, and activation as a non-conventional museum space, its position within the wider arts ecology of south-west England, and its own regeneration, as a former clay mine.

    Acts of Gathering runs at the Eden Project in Cornwall until 14 April 2024.

    For more, join EMPIRE LINES in conversation with artist Serge Attukwei Clottey at Reclaim - a weekend of talks and events at Eden, curated to support mental and planetary wellbeing - which takes place from 27-28 January 2024: edenproject.com/visit/whats-on/reclaim



    For more about the arts ecology of south-west England, hear curator Ashish Ghadiali on Radical Ecology’s recent exhibition at KARST in Plymouth, on EMPIRE LINES: pod.link/1533637675/episode/146d4463adf0990219f1bf0480b816d3



    And Morad Montazami, curator of the Casablanca Art School (1962-1987), currently at Tate St Ives in Cornwall: pod.link/1533637675/episode/db94bc51e697400326f308f6c6eaa3c6



    For more on music, memory, and history, hear Barbican curator Eleanor Nairne on Julianknxx’s Chorus in Rememory of Flight (2023), on EMPIRE LINES: pod.link/1533637675/episode/1792f53fa27b8e2ece289b53dd62b2b7



    And on the globalisation of 'African' masks, listen to Osei Bonsu, curator of A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography at Tate Modern: pod.link/1533637675/episode/386dbf4fcb2704a632270e0471be8410



    WITH: Misha Curson and Hannah Hooks, Senior Arts Curator and Arts Curator at the Eden Project, Cornwall.

    ART: ‘Learning from Artemisia, Uriel Orlow and Orchestre Jeunes Étoiles des Astres (2019-2020)’.

    SOUNDS: Orchestre Jeunes Étoiles des Astres.

    PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic.



    Follow EMPIRE LINES on Instagram: instagram.com/empirelinespodcast

    And Twitter: twitter.com/jelsofron/status/1306563558063271936

    Support EMPI

    • 16 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

kirklandiyers ,

Very engaging

These episodes are informative and engaging.

ProfReader2021 ,

Excellent resource

As an art history professor, this is a high-quality resource for engaging with the broader histories that surround the objects of art history. 10/10 recommend to all my students and colleagues!

Keggdog ,

Excellent podcast

Consistently fascinating. Empire is both a complicated and far-reaching concept, and approaching it through art and material culture is one of the better ways to understand it. I also appreciate the shorter length: it’s just enough to draw you in and leave you curious, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed if you’re unfamiliar with the subject matter.

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