• The Only Space

Art & Resistance

Throughout the course of this month, we have been showcasing work on our Instagram of various artists who have created work that encapsulates what it means to use art as a form of resistance. Resistance means many things to different people, it is rooted in the individual struggles that we see and shapes the way in which we move forward. Each artist has a different view of what art and resistance means to them, so we have decided to share their works and the thoughts behind them.

Rhea Kaur | @eggloid

"Every art movement in history is trying to counteract the ideologies of the movement that came before them and by thinking this way all art is part of their own revolution.

My work is heavily inspired by that of Francis Bacon, one of the best "mystifiers" of his time. One of his paintings simply titled "1946" depicts a ghost-like figure said to be Neville Chamberlain under a black umbrella (one of his signature characteristics). I tried to recreate this with our current Prime Minister giving him these piercing red eyes and placing him in front of the words "Dieu et mon droit" (10 Downing Street’s slogan translating ‘to God and my right) written in blood. I tried to incorporate the ill feelings about our country's political state of the people around me and by doing this I think I created my own little piece of art & revolution."

Isis Davis-Marks | @idavismarks

"I made this piece (Gun 3) because I’m thinking about the fact that many black women are often the victims of violence and police brutality. I think that art has the capacity to pose questions, which can be a form of resistance. I think that it is important for artists to think about things in nuanced ways, even if art itself is insufficient to cause social change. Art has to be used with methods in order for it to successfully resist something."

Ruhkia | @ruhkiart

"My art often depicts black females, empowering a community which has been underrepresented in the arts for too long. This is my form of resistance; refusing to allow such an inequality and pushing a different narrative into artistic spaces. Ever since 2018, I have incorporated African wax print fabrics into many artworks. They feature wavy material cut-outs that harmonise with the beauty of the painted figures and root each piece in rich African-Caribbean culture.

Each has an individual story that manifests itself in innumerable ways within the mind of the viewer. I felt that it was important for my art to have a universal aesthetic that communicates with us all, emotionally and mentally.

Although I choose to depict black females, I try to ensure that my overall message transcends race and can communicate with people from any background."

Mediphis | @artist_named_nobody

"The black woman is the most disrespected, unprotected and unappreciated person in the world and her very existence is a rebellion. My portraits shine a focus on the beauty that is black women and make them the focal point of each piece to bring such beauty out of the shadows and to normalise black representation in art."

Hannah Michelle | @hannahbelle.michelle

"While I also create singular illustrations in times where there are topics that are weighing heavily on my heart, I have a few ongoing projects that reflect on multiple social issues facing women, and I definitely see this art as a form of resistance. Cats Calling Back is a project dedicated to listening to mostly women’s stories of catcalling, sexual assault, and anything and everything in between. Often, we commiserate, I hook them up with resources, we chat about what’s working for them in terms of healing, and then I create an illustration for them to reclaim their narrative while gaining support from a wider community. This project is all about amplifying others’ voices the way they want them to be amplified, and giving them a soft place to land after being brave. However, I believe I shouldn’t and cannot honestly aid in others’ healing if I am not also working on my own, so I began another project, Guy Comics, which explores emotional/sexual abuse in relationships in a semi-humorous way. Mostly taken straight from the texts/interactions of my abusive ex-boyfriend, this is my own form of resistance against patriarchy and abusive men. I started it so I could validate my own feelings, and in turn, I hope, validate others who have been through similarly turbulent relationships."

Myah Jeffers | @myahismyname

Myah Jeffers is a Barbadian-British documentary and portrait photographer, dramaturg and director, living and working in London.

She is currently a Literary Associate at The Royal Court and the 2019 Portrait of Britain winner.

Her work in both theatre and photography is focused on Black experiences and aims to use portraiture to illuminate Black and queer joy as acts of resistance.

"The act of making art and sharing art for me is a healing process. With my own practice I seek to photograph the notion of Black existence in all of its complexity. What does it mean to exist and thrive in a world ruled by systems of oppression. The simple act of photographing this offers a tenderness and truth that is an active form of resistance."

Mawhyah | @mawhyah

My smile is stretched so wide,

I can taste the gas being lit.

I can hardly see through the rose color,

Constantly accosted and choked by poppies.

My life and being is so colorful,

It's a target to be eaten.

Existing like this

Is to be a flower waiting to be plucked.

"In my work, the imagery of the poppies are used a lot. I use them for their meaning: death. In my work they symbolize the lost ones. Black people who became ancestors because of the force that is White Supremacy and systemic oppression. I also juxtapose morbid but unabashedly true themes with loud, colorful vibrancy. Black culture and existence across the diaspora is loud, colorful and vibrant and exists intermingled with a constant barrage of oppression and violence but its flames can not be extinguished. I strive to make my work express this vividly.

Art and Resistance is just like this. Art has encapsulated, recorded and contributed to every documented movement of resistance and culture. Art is culture. It gives identity to people. And with culture people have power to resist. It shapes the zeitgeist. It is not a coincidence that when people are being destroyed and colonized their art is destroyed first. The continued circulation of art IS resistance."


The Only Space would like to say a massive thank you to all of the artists who have agreed to participate in this month's showcase, follow them and have a look at some of the other amazing poetry that has also been published on Griotte throughout this month by Abigail and Mya.

To mark the end of this month's theme, we will be having an online event titled - How We Tell Stories: Black Feminisms, Film and Resistance. Tickets are available here.