Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum: It Will End in Tears

18 September 2024 to 5 January 2025 Barbican Centre

A vibrant mural shows various fragmented images, including two people holding plants, birds in the sky, checkered patterns, and abstract landscapes. The artwork blends pastel colors with detailed line work, creating a complex and dynamic composition.
DYNASTY 2021 credit Toni Hafkenscheid

In her first solo exhibition at a major UK institution.

From 18 September 2024, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum will transform The Curve with a large-scale installation filling the length of the Barbican’s cornerless gallery in her first solo exhibition at a major UK institution. Expanding her ongoing interest in narrative world-building, Sunstrum has produced a series of drawings, paintings and installation to tell the story of a brand new character in the artist’s ever-growing cast of alter-egos.

The expansive installation, designed uniquely for The Curve in collaboration with Remco Osório Lobato, will draw visitors into the everyday of a rural life in an imagined twentieth-century colonial outpost, based loosely on the hometown of Sunstrum’s grandmother in Botswana. Resembling an interconnected map of film sets, visitors will piece together a drama in parts as they move through domestic space, colonial bureaucracies, and travel waiting rooms – immersed in the world created by the artist and blurring the boundaries between spectatorship and participation.

This new body of work takes inspiration from crime fiction novels and mid-century genres such as film noir, challenging the femme fatale archetype which uses reductive and often misogynistic tropes to represent women across literature, art and cinema. Through the new series, Sunstrum draws from her experience living in different parts of Africa, South Asia and North America to examine the notions of home, hybrid identities and wholeness.

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum said: “I learned that The Curve originally served as a sound barrier: a buffer to contain all manner of performative noise emanating from the adjacent Barbican concert Hall. I became fascinated by this liminal zone: a space that encases not only the spectacle, but also the secrets of the spectacle’s tricks and devices. I have always been a bit obsessed by such liminal spaces— the in-between, the not-quite-one-nor-the-other. For me, liminality offers a powerful symbol and speaks to cycles of survival tactics, longing, desire, and the pursuit of home and wholeness…that even when squeezed between two barriers, history still persists.”

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum: It Will End in Tears: 18 September 2024 – 5 January 2025

The Curve, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS

Further Information:  Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum | Barbican