Feminism, Magic & Brexit Q&A between Dr Edwin Coomasuru and Candida Powell-Williams in collaboration with the Gender & Sexuality Research Group at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

Join artist Candida Powell-Williams and art historian Dr Edwin Coomasaru (Courtauld Institute of Art) to discuss the politics of magic, feminism and Brexit. From wellness culture to press punditry, we are living through a historical moment of both profound uncertainty about the future – which has driven a deep anxiety about divination. In the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis and in the shadow of looming climate change, activist from across the political spectrum – from feminist and anti-racist, to the far right – have increasingly turned to the occult as a medium to find alternate stories to explain our world. Powell-Williams’ artistic practice offers a powerful investigation into this growing trend, thinking through the stakes for the recent and re-occurring feminist turns towards witchcraft and magic.

Powell-Williams produced a set of tarot cards, Unreasonable Silence (2019) as part of a residency at the Warburg Institute – an art historical organisation dedicated to supernatural practices in visual culture, that had to re-locate from Germany to London in 1933 in response to Nazism. More recently, she exhibited installations at VOID gallery and site-specific performances in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. At a time when the legacy of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ (1968-98) and its 1998 peace agreement have shaped the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU, Powell-Williams has done urgent and vital work in exploring the ghostly legacies of the civil war. Her current exhibition at Bosse & Baum draws together these recent projects, to ask how our current political landscape is shaped by magical thinking – and the implications for gender, conflict, capitalism, and Brexit. This event is part of Candida Powell-Williams’ solo exhibition The Gates of Apophenia, 15 November 2019 – 25 January 2020 at Bosse & Baum.

Dr Edwin Coomasaru is an Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld Institute of Art, researching the gender and sexuality politics of Brexit’s visual culture. He was awarded The Courtauld’s 2018-19 Sackler Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellowship; and his AHRC-funded PhD at The Courtauld examined gender, sexuality and the legacy of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ in contemporary art. He has contributed to The Irish Times, Irish Studies Review, and The Irish Review; and is co-founder of The Courtauld’s Gender & Sexuality Research Group.

Candida Powell-Williams graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 2011 and the Slade School of Fine Art London in 2009. She was recently Artist in Residence at The Warburg Institute London. Selected exhibitions include: Command Lines, Void Gallery Northern Ireland (2019), Lessness, still quorum, performance, Serpentine Galleries, London (2018); Boredom and its Acid Touch, Frieze Live, London (2017); Tongue Town, Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo (2017); Cache, Art Night Associate Programme, London (2017); Vernacular History of the Golden Rhubarb, Bosse & Baum Gallery, London (2017); PIC performance festival, Melbourne, Australia (2016); Coade’s Elixir-an occupation, Hayward Gallery, London (2014). Powell-William’s is the recipient of the 2018 Mother Art Prize with a group show at Mimosa House London (2019). Other awards include the Sainsbury Scholarship at the British School at Rome (2012-13), the Paris Residency at Cite Internationale des Arts, (2010), Eric and Jean Cass Sculpture Award (2010-2011). In 2019 common-editions published Powell-William’s 78 card tarot deck and artist book.