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Elsa James

b. 1968, United Kingdom

Elsa James (b. 1968, London, England) is a British African-Caribbean, conceptual artist and activist living in Essex since 1999. She studied as a mature student at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London (2006–10) and Goldsmiths College, University of London (2013–15).

Her work intervenes in the overlapping discourses of race, gender, diaspora and belonging. Her black British identity ignites her interdisciplinary and research-based practice, located within the fields of contemporary performance, text-based art, socio-political and socially engaged art. Her works employ recovery, recollection, and the archives, to examine ideas surrounding regionality of race and black subjectivity. Forgotten Black Essex (2018) and Black Girl Essex (2019) explore the historical, temporal and spatial dimensions of what it means to be black in Essex; England’s most misunderstood, and, homogeneously white county.

She has presented, screened and exhibited projects nationally, and online internationally, including Autograph (ABP), London; Axisweb, Wakefield; Beecroft Art Gallery, Southend; Big Screen Southend at Focal Point Gallery, Southend; The White House, Create London, London; Cubitt, London; Firstsite, Colchester; Furtherfield, London; Magic Me, London; Metal Culture, Southend; RadicalxChange Conference, New York; Site Gallery, Sheffield and Tate Exchange at Tate Modern, London.

She was selected as one of four co-curators for the live digital opening weekend for Estuary 2021 and her work recently acquired as part of Art XUK for the Government Art Collection.


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