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Installation image showing a vibrantly painted wall, in orange and fiery tones, at the end of gallery two. To the left an artwork consisting of sewn patchwork denim pieces hang in a grid is suspended from the ceiling. To the back right we can see two vitrines with apexes.

Seized by the Left Hand

Curated by Eoin Dara and Kim McAleese

Sat 14 December 2019 - Sun 22 March 2020

Sophia Al-Maria | Andrew Black | CAConrad | Harry Josephine Giles | Emma Wolf-Haugh | Isaac Julien | Huw Lemmey | Flora Moscovici | Quinie | Abel Rodríguez |  Victoria Sin | Tuesday Smillie | Manuel Solano | Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa | Ming Wong

Photo of a book with no cover on a small white shelf protruding from a white wall. The book is 'The Left Hand of Darkness', the pages are yellowed with age, and the text is black.

This international group exhibition took as its starting point some of the ideas contained within American writer Ursula K. Le Guin's 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness.

Written 50 years ago, this masterpiece of feminist science fiction is set on an icy planet called 'Gethen' (which translates to 'Winter') whose inhabitants shift and change gender continuously throughout their lives. We as readers are told the story of Gethen from a human perspective through the eyes of protagonist Genly Ai, an envoy sent to the planet to attempt to convince Gethenian governments to join an interplanetary trade coalition.

The book had a profound impact on the sci-fi genre at the time of its publication and remains hugely relevant to the world around us today, posing serious and challenging questions about gender, sexuality, the environment, language, communication, power and empire.

A photograph of a delicate painting of trees.

Using The Left Hand of Darkness as a lodestar of sorts, and invoking Le Guin's generous spirit in thinking through the possibility of an exhibition inspired by her writing, we are drawing together a community of different artistic voices from all over the world to fill our galleries across the winter. Presenting work by Sophia Al-Maria, Andrew Black, CAConrad, Harry Josephine Giles, Emma Wolf-Haugh, Isaac Julien, Huw Lemmey, Flora Moscovici, Quinie, Abel Rodríguez, Victoria Sin, Tuesday Smillie, Manuel Solano, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa and Ming Wong, the exhibition aims to explore some of the questions and ideas thrown up by Le Guin half a century ago that are still urgently being debated in contemporary society.

This multifaceted project, curated by Eoin Dara and Kim McAleese (Programme Director of Grand Union, Birmingham), will combine artforms such as painting, drawing, sculpture, installation and film, with performance, poetry and writing. The exhibition at DCA will also include a curated display of artefacts from the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum housed within the University of Dundee, highlighting specimens from the animal kingdom that beautifully resist normative categorisation when it comes to gender, sexuality, bonding and kinship.

Seized by the Left Hand seeks to champion artists, performers and writers who, much like Le Guin was, are engaged in the vital act of radical imagining: crafting alternative spaces and worlds that hint at ways in which we all might better live, love and care for one another.

Curators Eoin Dara and Kim McAleese on Seized by the Left Hand

Seized by the Left Hand: Exhibition Notes

Click here to download the Exhibition Notes for Seized by the Left Hand
205 KB (PDF)

Exhibition images

Three plinths with glass apexes can be seen in the centre of the photograph, displaying small objects as though a museum display. Behind can be seen a wall painted with mottled pink and blue, with a row of six paintings. To the right there is a small dark doorway leading to a video booth. On the far right wall can be seen a grid of six paintings.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
Installation image showing a the entrance to a booth where a film plays, and four paintings.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
Photograph of framed drawn book covers, in a line on a white wall, going off into the distance.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A vitrine with a glass apex is in the foreground to the left, it holds small objects reminiscent of a museum display. On the left a blue mottled wall holds four paintings in a row. To the back is a doorway. To the right can be seen a grid of six paintings.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A vitrine with a glass apex is in the foreground to the left, it holds small objects reminiscent of a museum display. Another can be seen behind it. I/n the background are fiery orange painted wall and a doorway can be seen in the far left.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A vitrine with a glass apex is in the foreground to the left, it holds small objects reminiscent of a museum display.Another can be seen to the right, behind it. In the background we can see a bright orange painted wall.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
In the auxiliary gallery to gallery two, we can see three white posters with black text hung on the walls with bulldog clips. In the middle of the room is a bench with a central backrest and copies of a zine, also black and white.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A bench is positioned in front of a TV monitor, towards the corner of the room. The TV monitor shows a film still, with a background landscape with blue sky and green vegetation. As though smeared on the screen, hand drawn text reads 'Balls' in capital letters, in a bright purple paint.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A film plays in a dark room, and we can see in the foreground, lit by the light of the screen, some beanbags on the floor. The light in the room is pink, illuminated by the vivid pink screen. The film still shows a feminine person's face, with drag-like make up over most of their face, apart from their right eye. They have heavy eye and lip makeup, and are bathed in a pink glow.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
Photograph showing a chapbook by CA Conrad. It is blue and white and has the title 'Seized by the left hand' on the cover.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A video projected in a small dark room. The still shows white text that reads 'Promised Lands' in capital letters in the centre. A landscape behind this is dark, with pink and blue sky as though at sunrise.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A photograph of a video installation in a small blacked out room. The video shows a figure sitting on a bed, as though in a hotel. The colours are polarised.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.