Dialogic Portrait, Felicity Allen
EVENT19.08.2021 / 10.00am6.00pm

Figure to Ground – a site losing its system (2020)

Felicity Allen

Digital video, 12 mins
Ikon YouTube

During the Migrant Festival 2021, Ikon screens Felicity Allen’s new digital video, Figure to Ground – a site losing its system (2020). Commissioned as part of ‘People Like You: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation’ research project, the video explores the ways in which digital culture’s concept of personalisation affects a contemporary understanding of the ‘self’. Through portraiture, Allen considers this shifting sense of self in relation to data science with her sitters, who are selected because of their interest in and relationship to digital culture, or to portraiture and archiving, or to issues of borders and locality (including refugee status). Several sitters are involved with Refugee Tales, which stems from Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and Kent Refugee Help, and calls for a future without immigration detention.

Dialogic Portrait
20 – 21 August

Ikon Slow Boat

Allen will use Ikon Slow Boat as her studio for the continuation of her Dialogic Portraits, which recognise the labour and experience of the sitter as well as the artist. She will portray Sasha Ndlovu, a member of Migrant Voice, Birmingham. Born in South Africa, at the age of seven she danced at the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A public service student with interests in music and dance, Ndlovu aspires to be a gospel singer.

The Dialogic Portrait process usually involves a minimum of two days of sittings with an individual, during which Allen talks with the sitter as she paints at least two watercolour portraits. Typically, this is followed by a recorded discussion. She frequently juxtaposes anonymised elements of the recordings with the portraits in books, films and exhibitions.

Felicity Allen’s work Baby II (1989) is currently exhibited In A Very Special Place: Ikon In the 1990s (18 June – 30 August 2021).

This event is part of The Migrant Festival 2021.

Event Date

This event has passed
Image Credits
1. Dialogic Portrait, Felicity Allen


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