Meet the curator

with Orphée Kashala

Ikon hosts Midlands-based artist Exodus Crooks’ exhibition Epiphany (Temporaire). Curated by Orphée Kashala, we asked him a few questions about himself and his experience working with Exodus Crooks.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself…
I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where I grew up immersed in culture from a very young age. By the time I was 17, I had experimented with poetry, drawing, dance and music performance. I moved to the UK when I was 18 and lived between Coventry and Birmingham, where I studied and worked.

In 2022, I was awarded a full scholarship to attend Goldsmiths, University of London. I have since been based in South London, where I am working and researching. I am interested in the diasporic, counter visuality and the burden of representation and how these can be coded and decoded through the visual and performing arts.

How did you get into curating?
My journey in visual arts started off as a trainee producer at Maokwo in Coventry, where I delivered the young leadership programme in partnership with the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum and National Art Collections. I was introduced to curating on this project and fell in love with it. By the end of the programme, I curated a pop-up exhibition titled Survivor’s Guilt, showcasing artwork from three Coventry based artists.

My curatorial practice took a leap in 2021, when I was selected for the Emergence(y) project in Birmingham, a residency programme – jointly organised by Ort Gallery and the International Curators Forum (ICF) — aimed at nurturing emerging curators and developing their skills. The culmination of my residency was the curation of Epiphany (Temporaire), showcasing new artworks by Birmingham based artist Exodus Crooks. The exhibition opened in the summer of 2023 at Block 336 in Brixton and toured to Ikon Gallery, opening in February 2024.

How did you start working with Exodus Crooks?
I first met Exodus during their residency at The New Art Gallery Walsall where we were briefly introduced. Our paths crossed again at Ort Gallery when I attended a workshop Exodus led on navigating the arts. At this point I was still not fully familiar with their practice, but I was beginning to have an idea of their areas of interests.

Once I had written the proposal for Epiphany (Temporaire), I reached out to Dr. Ian Sergeant, a mentor of mine who was familiar with the intention of the project, and asked for recommendations of artists whose practice aligned with what I was proposing. Exodus Crooks was his first suggestion. When I made the same request to Ort Gallery, Exodus was also one of their suggestions. So, I decided to reach out and we scheduled a studio visit. The rest is history.

How does it feel to have Epiphany (Temporaire) displayed at Ikon Gallery?
It feels like a full circle moment. The exhibition was initially supposed to open in Birmingham, but plans had to be changed due to unexpected circumstances.

While we had a wonderful and successful first iteration in Brixton, this one is particularly sweet as it feels like a homecoming. I am especially excited for Exodus as they finally get to share their gift in a place that means so much to them. There is an artwork on the wall in Exodus’s studio that reads “Home is only sweet when you get to go back to it.” That’s how it feels to have Epiphany (Temporaire) at Ikon.



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Exodus Crooks
Ikon hosts Midlands-based artist Exodus Crooks’ exhibition Epiphany (Temporaire), commissioned by Ort Gallery and International Curators Forum (ICF), originally presented at Block 336 in Summer 2023. Curated by Orphée Kashala, the exhibition includes sculpture, film, text and sculptural installation.   

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