Women of Colour Index (WOCI) Reading Group

Intercultural and Intersectional Skills Training for Practice Research in the Arts

WOCI Reading Group at South London Gallery, September 2017

WOCI Reading Group at South London Gallery, September 2017

In 2016 Artists Samia Malik, Michelle Williams Gamaker and Rehana Zaman co-founded the Women of Colour Index Reading Group an extensive resource collated by artist Rita Keegan, based at the Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths College. On the basis of our research we aim to delve deeper into this rich legacy of artist’s of colour to develop the skills of art practitioners and researchers today. The focus here is on responding to the legacy of women artists of colour to improve the visibility of these artists and also to create a self-reflexive space for researchers to acknowledge their own relationships to race, class, gender and sexuality.

The conditions of how we relate to these subject positions and how these complex positions shape how we are read as cultural contributors within institutions, impact upon our ability to research within our respective institutions and beyond.

The aim of the training sessions is to create a forum for discussing this openly and through critical frameworks, which is key to our research strategy. We strongly encourage individuals from all backgrounds, genders, religions, sexualities and races to engage with our research and hope that we have a strongly interdisciplinary and intergenerational mix of researchers to add complexity to our conversations. We hope the connections formed through our conversations with CHASE researchers beyond Goldsmiths will develop long-term collaborations and contributions to the field.

New session added

Propagation as Propaganda – Wednesday 9 May 2018

Time: 17.00-19.00

Location: SOAS, University of London

Session Facilitator: TBC

The dissemination of practice-based research outcomes may take many forms. During the past academic year we have actively tried to bring WOCI into a number of research contexts from libraries, galleries and museums. Our goal is to work not only with WOCI at Goldsmiths, but to also develop conversations with other archives where overlaps in content and agenda can be found. This will include the Panchayat Collection (Tate Britain) and arts commissioning organisation Pavilion, in Leeds. Following on from our last session, we want to find more radical ways of disseminating the cultural production of women artists of colour. Our argument is that we need to propagate several forms of artistic research (through exhibitions, performance, books, video, web-based platforms as modes of dissemination) We want to propose this takes a more radical form through ‘propagation as propaganda’, which actively promotes the working practices of female artists of colour to inform the new generation of researchers today. The focus of this session is to pick up the conversations linked to our session on translating archive material and how this differs with propagating content. Vital to this question is what is included and excluded when we disseminate research? How does this feed into the mythologies of artistic practice? How does this help or hinder artistic production and our reputations as cultural producers?

Please see below for details and to register

The training is open to:

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Looking with Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski (Women of Colour Index Reading Group)

Join us for the next Women of Colour Index Reading Group with session facilitator Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Samia Malik and Rehana Zaman at the Women's Art Library. 

Time: 15.00-16.30

Location: Women’s Art Library, Special Collections Suite (room G28) Ground Floor of the Library, Rutherford Building, Goldsmiths College

Session Facilitator: Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski

Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski Minneapolis based, London-born, Nigerian mixed-media artist/designer, archivist and organiser. Her work and research explores the relationship between feminist, queer, decolonizing theories/spaces and organizational, curatorial, artistic (self) archiving practices.

Sowinski is currently part of the Archival Education Research Initiative (AERI) Emerging Archival Scholars Program (EASP). Between 2014-16 she was an artist/archivist in residence at the Women's Art Library, Goldsmiths with art, archival research group X Marks the Spot. Sowinski is currently collaborating with artist/archivist Rita Keegan and the Women of Colour Index Artist Files Collection.  She is in the process of developing a collaborative digitisation project to archive the papers of Nigerian Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti (1938-1997).  She is a committee member for the GLC Story Oral History Project and a specialist volunteer for the Equiano Centre, UCL.

The Women of Colour Index Reading Group was set up in October 2016 by artists, Samia Malik, Michelle Williams Gamaker and Rehana Zaman. The reading group meets on a monthly basis to discuss work within the Women of Colour Index (WOCI); a unique collection of slides and papers collated by artist Rita Keegan that chart the emergence of Women of Colour artists during the ‘critical decades’ of the 1980s and 1990s. Reading group sessions aim to improve the visibility of women of colour artists whilst using material in the archive to generate discussion, thought and practice around current social and political concerns. All people of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, religions and race are welcome.

Workshop reading text: 

‘I watch stuff on the telly, read the paper and I’m not on it. I’m marginalised or ignored. That does my head in really. 

Not many people stop too much. A lot of people just pass over them. Black and white. I would like people to look at them a bit more carefully and think about them.

There’s a lot of discussion about art, but photography’s such a young a medium. There’s a big block even though there’s stuff coming out now. You need to actually compile bibliographies and stuff so that a dialogue can happen’. Ingrid Pollard talks to Molly Shinhat. Polareyes - A journal about Black Women working in photography, Issue No.1 1987. 

W: https://wocireadinggroup.wordpress.com
FB: WOCI Reading group
Twitter: @WOCIReading

 Writing (Retreat) – June 2018

This two-day residential workshop will explore and experiment with different modes of writing for research. We will ask participants to draw upon their own histories of making and position their intercultural subjectivity at the heart of their writing. We will visit Leeds(Pavilion’s feminist photography archive) and Preston’s Making Histories Visible Archive, set up by Professor Lubaina Himid MBE. We will participate in a series of walks in the city centre and its surrounds. Utilising urban, suburban and parkland environments to create a shifting landscape for our conversations and to offer visual stimuli for our writing. We hope that the mobile, physical and fluid nature of our walking-research strategy, will also embody a visible performative manifestation of our practice-based research. As practitioners interested in exploring the histories of women artists of colour, as well as researchers interested in acknowledging our intersectional positions as makers. The writing contributions may form part of a publication we wish to develop as a result of the ocnversations from the CDF training scheme.


Archive – Wednesday 1st November 2017

Time: 16.45 for a 17.00 start - Please meet outside the Women's Library and await entry, a day pass will be issued in order to access the room.

Location: Women’s Art Library, Special Collections Suite (room G28) Ground Floor of the Library, Rutherford Building, Goldsmiths College - directions here

Session Facilitator: Rita Keegan 

What does the archive offer? To whom is it addressed? Does the positioning of information as something from the past offer accessible material for addressing concerns of the present? How can the archive speak to researchers today? Can the archive move from something “static” to a more fluid, i.e. as a “living” source of knowledge transfer? How do we understand our role as researchers through the practice of mining archives, and how does this raise the question of ethics and our responsibility to the content we find?

This session will be facilitated by Rita Keegan, artist, lecturer and archivist, whose meticulous work compiling fragments and documents that detail the diverse practices of various women of colour artists, makes up the Index.


The ‘R’ Words –Racism and Reparations: Women of Colour speaking out loud in a culture of silencing and co-option.'  

Date: Wednesday January 17

Time: 1700-1900

Location: SOAS, University of London, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0XG

Session Facilitators:
Carol John
- works in Student Advice and Wellbeing and is the UCU rep for Equality and Diversity. She is also involved in community organising outside of the university and 

Halimo Hussein - The Student Union Co-President (Equality and Liberation).  Halimo is one of the original members of the Decolonising Our Minds Society but also involved in organising outside of the university. She currently sits on the Decolonising SOAS working group. 

This session will explore what it means to work as women artists/ researchers of colour within and outside of institutions. We will discuss what happens when those working from marginalised positions are brought into ‘the centre’, or are ‘included’ within spaces they have been historically excluded from? How does this change the emotional consequences of making such work? Might it change what we think an intersectional methodology looks like? Is re-invention within these spaces possible? Who does such a re-invention benefit (researchers or institutions)?

This will be an experimental session embracing practice- based research techniques selected from a number of artists from the Women of Colour Index. We will also explore more general, qualitative and quantitative methods from across the arts and sciences to see how these can inform a method drawn specifically from practice.