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Seized by the Left Hand

Curated by Eoin Dara and Kim McAleese

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

This international group exhibition takes 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.

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.