A Very Special Place: Ikon in the 1990s — Ikon Looks Back At A Seminal Decade

Header Image: Donald Rodney, "In the House of My Father", 1997. Photographic print on aluminium.

Established in 1964, Ikon was founded to create a different, more accessible experience than major art institutions. Through their decades of presence, Ikon has worked with artists that may not have had the chance to exhibit in bigger, established places. They’ve worked with Black artists to tell stories of racism (Self Evident, 1995), had shows that referenced the HIV/AIDS pandemic (Clean and Dirty, 1994), and many more programs that dealt with current affairs and politics.

Adam Chodzko, "Nightvision", 1998. [‘heaven’; production still], 2-channel video projection, colour, sound.

In 2021, Ikon looked back at all the programs that they created in the 1990s. By framing the past, Ikon reflects on how that past shaped them and envisions a new future. The works from over two decades ago gained new relevance, especially with the happenings of current events (COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, Me Too). Have we made new strides or are we just repeating past mistakes?

Suzanne Treister, "Picassoids Video Game", 1989. Oil on canvas.

Elizabeth Macgregor, Director of Ikon for the majority of this period, has this to say about her time with Ikon:

“Looking back on it, I think what I was most proud of in that decade was how Ikon reflected the changes in the art world - the recognition that we needed to be more inclusive in an art world which had been rather elitist, only paying attention to certain kinds of work.”
Permindar Kaur, "Falling", 1995. Polar fleece and arctic fur, 120 figures.

The exhibition, A Very Special Place: Ikon in the 1990s, features works by Keith Piper, Donald Rodney, Martha Rosler, Yinka Shonibare, Nancy Spero, and many more. It is open to the public from 18 June - 30 August 2021. 

Visit the Ikon website for more information: 

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