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Visual Arts House of Ghetto: Black Pride

07/04/2017 - 15/06/2017

House of Ghetto: Black Pride comprises key portraits and a new video installation of the founding female members of The House of Ghetto; a Vogue House based in Manchester, UK. Vogue is a form of stylised dance and performative posture, characterized by model-like poses that arose from the Harlem ballroom scene of the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s/80s by often poor and disenfranchised African American communities, especially gay men, evolving to become fully inclusive to all. A ‘house’ in these terms is the name given to a collective unit who form a troupe, presided over by a ‘mother’, often lead choreographer and/or art director, able to guide, style and produce, but also adopting a familial and supportive role for younger members. For the large portrait series on Level 1, House of Ghetto house mother and award-winning dancer and choreographer, Darren Pritchard, working with NW photographer Cornel Simons from Fotocad, uses a black primer as backdrop and exaggerated flesh tone (not a colour itself, but the absorption of all colours), adding the spectrum of the LGBT Pride flag (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet). The distinctive hairstyles incorporate African diaspora hair weaves with the LGBT flag’s colour palette, celebrating black gay culture and allowing HOG members to be narrators of their own stories: a reflection of HOG’s unique flair and combined strength. Level 2 presents a striking new video installation and accompanying stills forDark Matter, featuring material from in-production feature documentary DEEP IN VOGUE. Manchester-based filmmakers Amy Watson & Dennis Keighron-Foster aim to explore the political and social meaning of Vogue as a distinct and legitimate medium of dance. In this extract they focus upon House of Ghetto, made up of largely young black women – a demographic hard hit by austerity measures – the directors renew the battle-cry of the original founders of the form as a call for black empowerment and as a platform of resistance. From Vogue’s rise in 1980s New York to this present incarnation in the North West of England, the film team was struck by the grace, dignity and fearlessness of the performers, in contrast to an oppressive, out-of-touch political regime that fails to acknowledge or support their determined aspirations. Casting the house dancers as afro-futurist goddesses, orbiting one another in an endless black space, they become celestial bodies preforming movements of timeless grace. The House of Ghetto always aims to put things of beauty out into the world through dance, video, fashion and photography.

We are grateful to Klein Imaging for supporting the exhibition print for House of Ghetto: Black Pride

Dark Matter from Amy Watson on Vimeo.
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