Event / 9 Mar 2024

Unmasking the Past: Artists in Conversation

Nelly Ating, Audrey Albert, Ffion Denman, Patricia Hayes, Thierry Mandarin, Geraldine Lublin

In conjunction with the exhibition Alteration, this symposium Unmasking the Past provides an extended analysis of the archival activation each artist employed in the production of their work by examining the themes of colonialism, identity, citizenship, and non-citizenship in contemporary times. We aim to connect levels of distortion through the exploration of how images and objects have been used throughout history, thus bringing together the various levels of distortion. However, this does not change the fact that a distorted picture of history cannot be reframed in a new light. While the content of these images and objects holds meaning, their physical form and how they are presented are also important as historical records that hold significance in society. While the exhibition aims to challenge the re-imagination of the gallery as part of Alteration, an integral part of Unmasking the Past is to foster live collaboration between practice-based artists and historians. Artists will discuss their work and then scholars respond to these themes or areas of focus as they interest them. As a result of these discussions, we connect histories in a cross-scholarly exchange that allows ideas and opinions to freely flow.


11.30am Doors open

12pm (prompt) Welcome from Siân Addicott and Nelly Ating

12.15 pm Beyond the Frame: Passport Photographs and State Control
Speakers: Nelly Ating and Professor Patricia Hayes

1pm Comfort break

1.15pm Matter Out of Place: Chagos Islands
Speakers: Audrey Albert and Thierry Mandarin

2pm Comfort break

2.15pm Welsh Communities in Patagonia
Speakers: Ffion Denman and Dr Geraldine Lublin

3pm Talks finish; gallery doors close at 5pm.

    This event is free and open to all. Booking is preferred but not essential.

    Thumbnail image courtesy of UWC-Robben Island Mayibuye Archives

    About Artists

    Portrait of Nelly Ating

    Nelly Ating

    Nelly Ating is a photojournalist who focuses on questions of identity, education, extremism, and migration. As a photojournalist, her work has been published in local dailies in Nigeria and legacy media such as the BBC and CNN. Her photographic work documenting the rise of Boko Haram terrorism between 2014 and 2020 in Northeast Nigeria shone a light on the aftermath of violent extremism. Ating has exhibited at galleries and photographic festivals in Africa, Europe and the US, as well as judged and reviewed photography competitions such as African Women in Media (AWiM) and Ugandan Press Photo Awards. She is a member of Women Photograph, Black Women Photographers, African Women in Photography, the Journal Collective, and African Database for Photojournalists run by the World Press Photo. She is currently a PhD candidate at Cardiff University researching the discourse of human rights through photography.

    Portrait of Audrey Albert

    Audrey Albert

    Audrey Albert is a Mauritian-Chagossian, visual artist and creative facilitator. Based in Manchester, Audrey’s research-led practice enables her to consider and investigate themes of mixed identity, collective memory and displacement.

    Selected for the Future Fires 2020 programme at Contact and the 2021 Creative Fellowship for Manchester International Festival, Audrey is currently working on Chagossians of Manchester (CoM) and Ble Kouler Lakaz (Blue is the colour of Home), both socially-engaged art project about Chagossian culture and heritage.

    Audrey’s work highlights stories of empowerment that celebrate Chagossian culture and heritage. Through these works, she pay homage to Chagossian ancestors, including her own, whose descendants are still affected by forceful displacement.

    Portrait of Ffion Denman

    Ffion Denman

    Ffion Denman is a photographer and educator currently living in Cardiff.

    My body of work opens up complex conversations on cultural displacement and the values of Welsh identity in Patagonia. The work in progress, goes beyond a romanticised notion of my Patagonia from my childhood imagination and invites onlookers to consider a more nuanced and intricate story; which includes the question of what happens when a dominant culture overshadows a minor, and more vulnerable one.

    Portrait of Patricia Hayes

    Patricia Hayes

    Patricia Hayes is National Research Foundation SARChI Chair in Visual History & Theory at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. She currently holds a FIAS (French Institutes for Advanced Study) fellowship at IEA-Nantes (2023-24) where she is developing a project on colonial photographic archives. She is co-editor of several recent volumes, including Ambivalent. Photography and Visibility in African History (2019), a special issue of the journal Kronos 46 (2020) on ‘Other Lives of the Image,’ and also Love and Revolution in the Twentieth-Century Colonial and Postcolonial World: Perspectives from South Asia and Southern Africa (2021).

    Portrait of Thierry Mandarin

    Thierry Mandarin

    Thierry Mandarin is an MSc post-graduate in Social Research Methods at the University of Sussex, with a BSc in Social Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Roehampton, London. He completed his MSc dissertation on the “intergenerational challenges, cultural identity and future prospects of the Chagossian community in Manchester” – focusing the subsequent generations of Chagossians; migration stories; impact and legacy of parents and grandparents and the future for the community after the Nationality Borders Bill 2022. He is of Chagossian heritage and identifies as Black.

    Portrait of Geraldine Lublin

    Geraldine Lublin

    Geraldine Lublin is an Associate Professor at Swansea University’s Department of Literature, Media, and Language. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she has lived in Wales since 2002. It was at Cardiff University’s School of Welsh that she completed her PhD, which focused on the special standing of the Welsh community in Chubut in relation to the region and the rest of Argentina. This led her to develop an interest in the wider dynamics of the region, including nation-building in Argentina, indigenous populations and settler colonial theory. She is the author of Memoir and Identity in Welsh Patagonia: Voices from a settler community in Argentina (University of Wales Press, 2017), which critically explores autobiographical materials written by Welsh descendants towards the end of the twentieth century. More recently, she has been inspired by Pedagogy of Degrowth approaches to undertake projects which contribute to highlight how the climate crisis, global inequalities and the dominant growth-oriented economic culture are closely interrelated.