Yevonde panel discussion: 
role-play in the arts

Photograph of a seated pale woman leaning forward with her head on one hand against a blue background; she wears a white dress and wings Dorothy Gisbourne (Pratt) as Psyche, 1935, purchased with support from the Portrait Fund, 2021 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Past event archive
15 September 2023, 19.00-20.00

The Ondaatje Wing Theatre

£15 (£12 Members / concessions)

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This discussion is held as part of the public programme for the Gallery’s current exhibition, Yevonde: Life and Colour. Join us as our panel springboards from Yevonde’s powerful construction of female roles in her work, to look at how role-play has been explored throughout historical and contemporary art.

Our panel will be chaired by Chanel Curator for the Collection, Flavia Frigeri, and include panellists Juno Calypso, Ajamu X and Marika Takanishi Knowles. Together, the speakers will un-pick the cultural history surrounding role-play, exploring ideas of otherness, gender and performance, and discuss how contemporary role play can act as a form of activism, inspire alter egos or encourage an idealised or dystopian identity to be realised.

Programmed in collaboration with AWARE (Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions)

The event will include a short introduction by Eléonore Besse, Researcher at AWARE : Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions. She is also a co-curator of Modern Women, a new section which will debut at Frieze Masters in October 2023.

Flavia Frigeri, image credit Isabelle Young

Dr Flavia Frigeri is an art historian, lecturer, and Chanel Curator for the Collection at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Previously she was Curator, International Art at Tate Modern. She is the author of Pop Art and Women Artists both in Thames & Hudson’s Art Essentials series and the co-editor of a volume of collected essays, New Histories of Art in the Global Postwar Era: Multiple Modernisms(Routledge, 2021). She is currently curating exhibitions for Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy.

Juno Calypso, image credit Luke Fullalove

Juno Calypso is a contemporary photographer. The lone figure in all of Juno Calypso's images is her: she photographs herself in honeymoon hotels, abandoned underground bunkers and heart-shaped hot tubs. Across film, photography and installation, Calypso builds a soft pink universe of femininity, solitude, desire and despair, all with an ultra-critical edge. Calypso's art is deeply sinister, hyper-feminine and filled with humour. This is cinematic, introspective art for the age of the self and the selfie.

Ajamu X

Ajamu X [Hon FRPS] is a darkroom/fine art photographic artist, archive curator and radical sex activist. His work has been shown in museums, galleries, and alternative spaces worldwide. In 2022, Ajamu was canonised by The Trans Pennine Travelling Sisters/Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as the Patron Saint of Darkrooms and received an honorary fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society. His work appears in private and public collections including Tate Britain, Autograph-ABP, Arts Council of England and Victoria and Albert Museum.

Marika Knowles © Marika Knowles

Marika Takanishi Knowles is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews. She studies French art of the early modern and modern period and is particularly interested in the relationship between theatre, social life, and representations of the human figure. Her first book, Realism and Role-Play: The Human Figure in French Art from Callot to the Brothers Le Nain (2020), explores the way that theatrical and fictional representations of human character influenced visual art in early seventeenth-century France.