Exhibition: Navigation Charts by Lubaina Himid


This exhibition was a really pleasant surprise for me.  I visited it, without knowing much about it, and when I walked in to the main gallery, it literally took my breath away.

Naming the money (2004) is the largest installation in the exhibition.  It is made up of 100 life-size cut-outs, each representing an African slave in one the eighteenth century European royal courts.  Each figure is individually painted in strong, bright colours, and the viewer is free to walk amongst the cut-outs.  Each cut-out has an accompanying story, which gives their original African name and occupation, as well as their new European name and trade.  These stories are written on the back of each figure and are also playing over a continuous musical soundtrack in the background.

The work was so powerful that I find myself still thinking about it a week later.  Although I’m still not entirely sure whether it was the political message, or the visual spectacle, that I found the most striking.