Archive Project: Sensuous Discoveries

Sensuous Discoveries is a project devised by Ajamu X in collaboration with 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It was developed in conversation with curator Mattie Loyce on a sunny day in Brockwell Park, Brixton during which Ajamu and Mattie discussed their shared desire to bring together thoughts, feelings and practices that explore the archival potential of Blackness & Queerness.The material histories of Black queer artists, academics, activists, and cultural workers in the UK tends to be absent within the broader social and cultural history of the Black Community and the broader LGBTQ+ Community. Sensuous Discoveries builds on Ajamu’s practice by foregrounding the smells, tastes, lustful looks and embodied experiences and the way that these form part of a living, playful and sexy archival world that reaches beyond the walls of institutions.

Sensuous Discoveries Saturday School builds on a long and rich tradition of independent learning of artists/free thinkers and marginalised communities taking control of their academic potential. This has included, Saturday Schools aimed at Black communities (UK) Harvey Milk High School (USA) Black Mountain College (USA) and artist-led and DIY art school initiatives such as Open School East, (London) Cannon Hill Art School (Birmingham) School of the Dammed, (London) LGBT Summer School (London).

The curriculum was designed and facilitated by leading practising artists, activists, scholars and cultural makers with a profile of working nationally and internationally. It consisted of four online events which were free to attend and now exist online on 198 CAL’s YouTube channel – generating an archive all of its own. The events included a Panel discussion featuring ten artists, scholars and cultural workers from the national and international Black Queer community. This was then supplemented by three Playshops – a playful, experimental space that centralises a joyful and pleasurable exploration of an idea – led by Chandra Frank, Rudy Loewe and Ajamu X and Mattie Loyce who ran the final session collaboratively.