“We Contain Multitudes” opens at NYC Culture Club, in collaboration with Montague Contemporary. The exhibition, which runs until will run through mid-January, features work by seven international women artists of color: Jessica Atieno, Prudence Chimutuwah, Angèle Etoundi Essamba, Muna Malik, Zena Sarwo-Wiwa, Florence Wangui, and Beatrice Wanjiku.
The show examines multifaceted perceptions and experiences of identity, belonging, and womanhood, and their relationship to cultural heritage and the contemporary world. The selected artists range from early to mid-career and work across a wide array of mediums from textiles and photography, to oil on canvas, and mixed media, underscoring to viewers the breadth of artistry created by women of color in an art world historically dominated by men.
Born in Douala, Cameroon in 1962, photographer Angèle Etoundi Essamba is a graduate of the Dutch Photography School in Amsterdam where she currently resides. Essamba is an artist committed to a reflection on the identity of the black woman. She joins the spirit of humanist photography with a strong attachment to the values of communion, observing the world through the women she photographs.
Essamba’s work lies at the intersection of the social/gender and the artistic field. She aesthetically records a vision of the black woman and African culture, giving a new interpretation of contemporary Africa. In her work, she breaks from stereotypical representations of an Africa torn by famines, epidemics, and wars, instead choosing to celebrate the cultural richness and diversity of the continent. Her photography practice challenges conventional representations of women, by giving her subjects meaning and grandeur, while simultaneously exploring the relationship between tradition and modernity. Essamba’s work is encompassed by the words pride, strength, and awareness which she conveys through the regal poses and fearless gazes of the subjects she captures. She focuses exclusively on what individuals radiate outward, whether alone, as a couple, or in a group. In this universe that is hers alone, she controls color with the same artistry as black and white, she masters contrast with a sure touch and handles shadow and light with dexterity and audacity.
Montague Contemporary recognizes the importance of changing the narrative of African art and of building a new shared counter-history. By championing unique perspectives and diverse identities in an accessible and engaging way, we aim to foster a new dialogue between audience and artist. Likewise, through innovative shared experiences, international fairs, and dedicated group and solo shows, we hope to bring increased exposure to the exciting world of contemporary African art.