The exhibition radicalising love

'Radical Love' by Jaishri Abichandani and Natasha Becker
Maria Berriob. 1982, Colombia/USA

Radical Love is the second installment to prolific, artist, writer and curator, Jaishri Abichandani’s trilogy, titled, ‘Utopian Imagination’. All three exhibitions form a singular entity alignment of the theme and its trajectory toward the qualities necessary in our exploration of an imagined society. Based on a Naomi Klein quote that discusses how policy, social justice and economic destabilisation, as a result of increasing volatility within the political sphere has forced societies in a direction of increased engagement. Humans have an intrinsic yearn for radicalism. Direct, effective and just, change that can only be achieved, according to Abichandani, through these three main stratifications: death, love, and the tomorrow. As we’ve grown further and further away from what we, in the west, came to know as an expected civilisation- now overturned by administrations far more draconian than in recent years, we must rely on nature to feet the changes we wish to see. 

Rooted in notions of devotion, abundance and beauty; Radical Love is an ode to queer, black, brown, feminist and disabled individuals who seek escapism through art- a transient state- safe spaces for those who otherwise exist on  the margins of society; the oppressed, the disadvantaged, the misrepresented and oft disposable to humanity. The first exhibition, ‘Perilous Bodies’, reacted to violence from intersectional perspectives – war, the refugee crisis and systemic violence of all distinction; race, sex, class, caste and beyond. Radical love was born out of the writings of Bell Hooks, ‘Loving Blackness as Political Resistance’. Jaishri Abchandani sort to position radical love as loving blackness, solely. Which, as we know to be true, a tale of myths.

RashaadNewsomeb. 1979, USA

This led her to the text, ‘All about love’:

“As a nation, we need to gather our collective courage and face that our society’s lovelessness is a wound. As we allow ourselves to acknowledge the pain of this wound when it pierces our flesh and we feel in the depths of our soul a profound anguish of spirit, we come face to face with the possibility of conversion, of having a change of heart. In this way, recognition of the wound is a blessing because we are able to tend it, to care for the soul in ways that make us ready to receive the love that is promised.”

Alongside co-curator, Natasha Becker, the creative duo orchestrated a vessel of sacred enrichment, healing and expression, not only for the audience, but largely for their artists to truly immerse and absorb the ideals presented. From meditation, to symposiums; a collective gathering of intellectual thought and practice. Abichandani describes the process as an “accoutrements of religion, whether through the performance of rituals or architecture, are dressed in sensual materials like gold, precious stones and embellished fabrics. The artists follow these traditions to express radical and divine love.”

Lina Iris Viktorb. USA

IAssembled in the emancipation of establishment, the exhibition is an emancipation of the state, of religion; unified by the intention of the human as not only a sacred being but a sacred space. The intention is a commitment to the reclamation of one’s agency, spiritual growth and interconnectedness and community. Radical Love, will include art by 23 artists, including Lina Iris Viktor, Jacqueline Tarry, Omar Victor Diop, Rashaad Newsome and many more. Opulent works, rich with intention and heavily aestheticism against the blood walls of the transformed Ford Foundation. “The artists of Radical Love have transformed the gallery into a space of visual lushness and opulence, one that envelopes the viewer in a sense of love, protection, power, and unity,” says Lisa Kim, the gallery’s director.

Radical Love is open at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice until August 17th. 


wordsConnie Mangumbu
cover imageCourtesy/ Umesiyakazi in Waiting​, 2015