Tate Britain presents a new free exhibition of sculptural works by Rhea Dillon. Titled An Alterable Terrain, the exhibition brings together a group of new and existing sculptures to explore Black women’s labour across histories and geographies. This will be the latest in Tate Britain’s ongoing Art Now series of free exhibitions showcasing emerging talent and highlighting the latest developments in contemporary British art.
Dillon (b. 1996, London) is an artist, writer and poet. Her practice spans painting, filmmaking, writing, installation, olfaction and sculpture, and explores questions of diasporic Blackness. Using material histories alongside theories of minimalism and abstraction, Dillon’s exhibition at Tate Britain conjures an expressive and poetic mode of storytelling through sculpture.
An Alterable Terrain presents a series of works that comprise fragments of an amorphous body. Six sculptures evoke the eyes, mouth, soul, reproductive organs, hands, feet and lungs of a Black woman. Viewed together, these disparate features underline the foundational role Black women’s physical, reproductive and intellectual labour has played in the history of the British Empire. Dillon evokes these experiences through considered materials – crystal plates cast in soap, molasses, and the scent of sweat; dried calabashes collected from Jamaica; a net curtain like the one in her Jamaica-born grandmother’s house.
While developing the works, Dillon approached the gallery space as a container for the body – its roof and rafters evoking an overturned ship’s hull. Simultaneously, the architecture conveys a human spine. These visual codes deeply enmesh with those of the slave ship, recalling histories tethered to geographies of the transatlantic and experiences of transnational Black diasporas.
Since the 1990s, Tate Britain’s Art Now exhibitions have recognised talent at its outset and provided a launching platform for artists who have gone on to become established figures on the international art scene. The series has recently showcased the work of Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, Shawanda Corbett, Danielle Dean, SERAFINE1369, Cooking Sections, and Sophia Al-Maria among other contemporary artists.
Art Now: Rhea Dillon: An Alterable Terrain, 23rd May 2023 – 1st January 2024 Tate Britain
Art Now: Rhea Dillon: An Alterable Terrain is curated by Daniella Rose King, Adjunct Curator, Caribbean Diasporic Art, Hyundai Research Centre: Transnational with Hannah Marsh, Assistant Curator Contemporary British Art. Art Now is supported by the Art Now Supporters Circle and Tate Americas Foundation.
An Alterable Terrain will be accompanied by a publication with commissioned texts released by Tate Publishing in late summer 2023. Contributors include Katherine McKittrick, Patricia Noxolo, Vanessa Onwuemezi, Martine Syms, Zoé Samudzi and Françoise Vergès.
About the artist
Rhea Dillon (b. 1996) is an artist, writer and poet based in London. Recent exhibitions include We looked for eyes creased with concern, but saw only veils at Sweetwater, Berlin (2023); The Sombre Majesty (or, on being the pronounced dead) at Soft Opening, London (2022); Real Corporeal at Gladstone Gallery, New York (2022); Love at Bold Tendencies, London (2022) and an online screening at The Kitchen, New York (2022). Dillon was an artist in residence at Triangle – Astérides, Marseille and previously at V.O. Curations, London, which culminated in a solo exhibition, Nonbody Nonthing No Thing and the publishing of poetry chapbook, Donald Dahmer (both 2021). The artist presented Catgut – The Opera as part of Park Nights 2021 at the Serpentine Pavilion, a publication of the same title will be published later this year by Worms Publishing, with an official launch at the ICA, London.