Jerwood FVU


Michael. was one of the two recipients of the Jerwood/FVU Awards 2022. The project awarded him with £25,000 to develop his winning proposal and make the significant moving-image work cleave to the BLACK

The work was exhibited at Jerwood Space, London, 7 May - 23 July 2022 and Leeds Art Gallery, 18 November 2022 - 22 January 2023.

For additional content including interviews, clips and exhibition images visit the FVU website

cleave to the BLACK

Echoing the art-historical tradition of the painted triptych, cleave to the BLACK is a three-screen video projection that offers a panoramic perspective on the legacies of the past that continue to leave an indelible mark on contemporary Black male experience. Alluding to episodes from the Bible and stories from African folklore and cosmology, the piece brings a subtle overtone of parable and myth to its carefully composed and quietly haunting scenes. Looping sequences of a procession of figures slowly climbing an outdoor staircase in a regulation council block are contrasted with a tableau of those figures sleeping (at nightly peace or at final rest). In between is a third screen depicting an arcadian landscape – a memory of a time long gone or a glimmer of better things to come? Far from a vision of utopia or a fantasy of paradise, it feels more like a space that is being reimagined and remade, from the bottom up. Moving through a series of gradually unfolding transitions, cleave to the BLACK, in its deliberate, meditative pace, celebrates slowness as a precondition of recovery and care and also as a lens through which the movements of the Black body attain a distinctive state of poise and grace. Made in close dialogue with a group of Black men from different London communities, cleave to the BLACK is a work of authentic, personal expression and evocative, atmospheric poetry. 

The Jerwood/FVU Awards 2022 was a collaboration between Jerwood Arts and Film and Video Umbrella, in partnership with Leeds Art Gallery.

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