Q&A with Judith Ricketts & Josef Cabey from breathTAKING

June 3, 2021
10:58 am
Kitty Bew

From 16 June – 25 July the breathTAKING exhibition presents a selection of works that explore the perspective of communities impacted by the legacies of colonialism. breathTAKING is part of the Brighton Fringe edition of OXYGEN and offers a rare mainstream platform for local artists to present bold new multi-disciplinary interpretations, through illustration, digital art, spoken word and video, plus leading edge works using virtual reality, augmented reality and facial detection.

Find out more about featured artists Judith Ricketts & Josef Cabey.

What made you want to get involved in the breathTAKING exhibition?
Josef: I was very excited to be asked to participate in breathTAKING because the themes that are often to the fore in my work speak directly to what the curator Jenni Lewin-Turner from urbanflo is trying to say with this show. This is an exhibition that centres the narratives of artists from backgrounds directly impacted by colonialism. It was also a chance to show in a central gallery space that I had visited many times. I was also aware of, and have a great deal of admiration for the other exhibiting artists. In fact, I have shown in previous group exhibitions at different times with some so that was a plus.

Judith: Often when showing work revisited through exhibition, other dimensions or perspectives are revealed in the work; this can take place during discussions with co-exhibitors, audiences, or simply through the works’ connection with the contemporary moment. My work speaks to this moment, and so it is an opportune moment for it to speak. I look forward to the conversations, insights, and other perspectives on the work.

Tell us a little about the work that you are exhibiting.
Josef: My work generally speaks from my perspective as a UK-born black queer man. The work in this show takes two formats. One is a set of paintings using my signature acrylic on cut board style. It speaks to that experience of navigating the world in my black, queer, male skin and the things that impact me or interest me. The second takes the form of large digital poster style prints titled ‘Just some guy….’ that on a surface level is what it says on the tin, but in seeking to be just that also references how this is not often the case in situations where black people are subject to negative assumptions projected upon them when undertaking very ordinary activities.

Judith: I make interactive media artefacts designed to disrupt and raise questions in order to reshape the boundaries of situated knowledge and ways we apply that knowledge and thinking through media. This approach is designed to challenge the application of thinking and making as it relates to problematized identities.
These pieces are centrally connected through the use of data as it relates to violence and protest, the proliferation of facial recognition in the general built environment, historical narrative, and bringing archival data to life through extended reality (XR) and storytelling in meaningful ways.

What would you like visitors to take away from the show?
Josef: I guess I would like to feel that an audience had gained something positive from the show in some shape or form, even if an artist at some point happens to be touching on something intrinsically uncomfortable. I hope people are able to interact and maybe even understand something new from seeing the work. I am not certain that I have ever seen a show in this venue featuring all black artists, and we are all very different people exploiting very different visual languages.

Judith: Primarily the idea that there is leading-edge thinking being applied to XR environments in a diverse range of communities in the city.  I make work which is dynamic to engage audiences with data and storytelling in exciting contemporary ways. Ultimately my aim is to reach wider audiences by extending the range of cultural and commercial organisations I work and collaborate with, both in the city and beyond.

Visitors can see breathTAKING from 16 June – 25 July, Wednesday – Sunday, 11.00 – 17.00. You do not need to pre-book, but the number of people in the gallery will be limited which may result in some queuing during busier periods.

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