ROCK MY SOUL II (Stockholm)
September 28th-November 27th,

Sadie Barnette, Owanto Berger,

Camille Billops, Sonia Boyce,

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Theresa

Traore Dahlberg, Jeannette Ehlers,

Claudette Johnson, Rachel Jones,

Diana Agunbiade Kolawole,

Deana Lawson, Fatima Moallim,

Zanele Muholi, Wangechi Mutu,

Lorraine OGrady, Okwui

Okpokwasili, Frida Orupabo,

Ebony G. Patterson, Ingrid

Pollard, Deborah Roberts,

Betye Saar, Ming Smith,

Carrie Mae Weems, Alberta

Whittle, Rachel Williams.

How to visit: Open by RSVP or appointment. Karlaplan 14, Stockholm

Eva Livijn +46 70-558 88 10

The exhibition runs until
November 27, 2022.

Opening hours

Wednesday September 28th
17:00————————————00:00 (Opening)
Thursday September 29th
Friday September 30th
Saturday October 1st
Sunday October 2nd

October 3rd——————November 27th:
Open by appointment.

Eva Livijn is delighted to host the second iteration of the acclaimed exhibition Rock My Soul curated by Sir Isaac Julien, RA which premiered at Victoria Miro, London in autumn 2019. This project is indebted to the late eminent black feminist scholar and writer bell hooks, whose seminal book of the same title Rock My Soul investigates the role of black self-esteem in empowering a body politic, both culturally and politically. As she wrote: “without self-esteem everyone loses his or her sense of meaning, purpose, and power”. In memory of bell hooks, who passed away in December 2021, Eva Livijn and Isaac Julien decided to organise this exhibition to be presented in Stockholm in September 2022.

Eva Livijn and Isaac Julien who are long-time friends, present this exhibition in support of racial and gender equality from artists who all contribute powerful black female and non-binary voices from the African diaspora. ROCK MY SOUL II (Stockholm), engages with internationalism and cosmopolitanism and paves the way for a local/global critical discourse concerning race and gender as configured in the Swedish and Nordic art scene.

The aim of this exhibition – presented in Eva Livijn’s house-gallery, is to critically celebrate international, cross-generational artists of colour who have shaped and transformed the contemporary art scene, and continue to expand the language of figuration, abstraction, and self-representation in contemporary art. The exhibition will propose that the questions of race and gender are as relevant as ever, and that the affirmation of self-esteem, which bell hooks writes about, is integral to the way we approach the work of these artists.

“Rock My Soul is a rare opportunity to witness works by artists of the African diaspora in conversation with one another. By presenting a high-caliber selection of women/nonbinary artists operating within and responding to various artistic eras and jurisdictions they un/consciously employ different approaches to figuration and abstraction, while Julien reaffirms an artworks ability to establish self-esteem, revealing human relations with the systems that surround them.”
Quote by Emmanuel Balogun, a British Nigerian writer and researcher. (Art Papers, Winter 2019/2020)

Participating Artists

Sadie Barnette (born 1984, US), Eagle Creek I, Archival pigment print photograph with overlaid rhinestones, 104.1 × 83.2 × 4.4 cm, 2021

The project “The New Eagle Creek Saloon Was Here,” reimagine Barnette’s father’s multi-racial bar that was the first black-owned gay bar in San Francisco. The project comes out of mining the archival materials from the bar, and then creating work that celebrate and honor the characters, artifacts, politics, and style of the saloon. Though the bar closed in 1993, the legacy of its spirit is embodied in its slogan: “A friendly place, with a funky bass, for every race.”

Owanto Berger (born 1953, Gabon/France), One Thousand Voices, sound work, 80 audio testimonies from 31 countries. Omnia, embroidery with wool yarn on cotton fabric, 40 × 260 cm, 2019

One Thousand Voices is an immersive sound installation and embroidery which amplifies an ensemble of voices collected from around the world. It is a collection of audio testimonies from Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting survivors. Using various languages, some speaking anonymously, most testifying openly, voices of survival and resilience, creates one collective narrative. Omnia is produced in collaboration with reformed-cutters from the Kolda region in South Senegal and from Cross River State in Nigeria. Women who have abandoned the knife to adopt the needle are changing their destiny as they weave the words of liberation voiced by the heroines in One Thousand Voices.

Camille Billops (1933-2019, US), Kaohsiung Series #9, Lithograph with hand coloring in crayon Image, 61 × 48.3 cm, 2012

Camille Billops (1933, Los Angeles, CA–2019 New York, NY) was an influential artist and filmmaker whose staunch activism and profound belief in the power of memory and representation made her a pillar of the black New York-based artist community from the 1960s until her death in 2019. Billops used her life experiences, family history, and community to carve out a space for her voice to be heard. Her work primarily touches upon themes of racism, gender dynamics, black culture, and personal narrative.

Sonia Boyce (born 1962, UK), Exquisite Tension, video, 4 minutes, photographic print, 70 × 99 cm, 2005

Sonia Boyce, OBE RA, is known for her highly innovative and experimental approach to art-making, using performance and audio-visual elements in her work. Boyce won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, 2022. Exquisite Tension, 2005, is a four minute video and soundtrack of a black girl and a white boy whose hair is tightly braided together by the artist stressing the common humanity of both.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby (born 1983, Nigeria/US), Cassava Garden, acrylic, transfers, colour pencil, charcoal and commemorative fabric on paper, 182.9 × 152.4 cm, 2015

Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s works draw on the tradition of classical academic painting in order to represent family portraits and domestic scenes from her home life in Nigeria and America. Drawing on art historical, political and personal references, Crosby creates densely layered figurative compositions that conjure the complexity of contemporary experience.

Theresa Traore Dahlberg (born 1983, Sweden/Burkina Faso), Copper and Glass X, mixed media, 90 × 70 cm, 2022. Hakili – The hare bronze, 100 × 127 × 21 cm, 2022

Theresa Traore Dahlberg is a visual artist and filmmaker who formulates and mediates engaging and complex narratives through sculpture, photography, and film. Dahlberg pays attention to production, working conditions, workers’ identities and personal stories, creating art that reflects the complexity of class, women’s roles, and post-colonialism. Traore Dahlberg draws from her own experiences of being anchored in two political and social cultures, Sweden and Burkina Faso.

Jeannette Ehlers (born 1973, Denmark/Trinidad), WE’RE MAGIC. WE’RE REAL #3 (From sunset to sunrise), photography, 2021–2022. BLACK IS A BEAUTIFUL WORD. I & I, video, photography, 2019

Five black female performers are conjoined by long cornrows. They are presented in poetic still photos from the forest. While the conjoined hair points to a shared existence, the piece refers to spirituality – within the African diaspora as well as towards the planet. The video installation consists of an archive photo, as well as a video that shows a floating portrait of 8 black women, accompanied by a poetic voice over. In the archive photo we encounter the woman Sarah. Sarah is seen in a white ball gown sitting on a porch of a house on St. Croix. The gaze is at the center and the work thus raises questions about the beholder and the observed, about power and resistance as well as about the Black female body and existence, across time and place.

Claudette Johnson (born 1959, UK), Afterbirth, pastel on paper, 118 × 83 cm, 1990

Claudette Johnson is at the forefront of black feminist art and explores the way in which black women have been depicted in Western art. Claudette Johnson’s intimate studies lend the portrayed figures a profound sense of character and presence. Addressing both the black body and the subject’s interiority, two central concerns for her practice, Johnson complicates and challenges historical constructions and traditions of representation.

Rachel Jones (born 1991, UK), say cheeeeese, Painting. Oil pastel, oil stick on canvas, 137.5 × 81 cm, 2022

Working in painting, installation, sound and performance, Rachel Jones explores a sense of self as a visual, visceral experience. In her paintings, she grapples with the challenges of finding visual means to convey abstract, existential concepts. In depicting the psychological truths of being and the emotions these engender, abstraction becomes a way of expressing the intangible. The figure is notably abstracted in her works, as Jones is interested in ‘using motifs and colour as a way to communicate ideas about the interiority of Black bodies and their lived experience’.

Diana Agunbiade-Kolawole (born 1988, Nigeria/UK), Cloak, 33 photographs, photographic paper, rafia, wood. 5.4 m × 1.61 m, 2015

Diana Agunbiade-Kolawole’s work utilises both lens and non-lens based photography, and these manifest themselves in a variety of outputs. Cloak, modelled upon the coronation robe of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, uses 31 photographs of sitters in the UK wearing traditional Yorùbá attire. A cloak is an item of clothing used to protect the wearer from natural elements such as wind and rain. In popular culture and especially in fantasy literature the cloak is a metaphor for protection or supernatural powers, hence it acts as a fortress for the individual in possession of it.

Deana Lawson (born 1979, US), Mama Goma, pigment print, 88.9 × 111.8 cm, 2014

Deana Lawson works with photography to examine the body’s ability to channel personal and social histories, addressing themes of familial legacy, community, romance, and spirituality. Lawson’s oeuvre, developed over the last decade, is a collective portrait, which investigates black aesthetics in the domestic, personal and intimate spaces, and various settings of ritual or celebration.

Fatima Moallim (born 1992, Sweden), ÅRSKURS 1–3, digital prints, objects, 42 × 42 cm, 2021

The foundation of Fatima Moallim’s work lies in drawing where Moallim express the energy directly via her senses to the canvas or paper through the tip of a pen. Årskurs 1-3 (Grade 1-3) consist of three black-and-white portraits of the artist as a young girl. Moallim’s work is based on old school photographs, and between the passe-partout and the glass, carefully pressed small pieces of fabric, chewing gum paper and even a candy necklace.

Zanele Muholi (born 1972, South Africa), Bona, Charlottesville, wall paper, 120 × 90 cm, 2015

Muholi is a South African visual activist and photographer. Muholi’s self-proclaimed mission is “to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in SA and beyond.” Through this positive imagery, Muholi hopes to offset the stigma and negativity attached to queer identity in African society.

Wangechi Mutu (born 1972, Kenya/US), Heeler IX, sculpture. Red soil, paper pulp, wood glue, rocks, acrylic shoe, wood (Silver Oak), 70.5 x 11.4 x 33 cm, 2016

In collages, films, sculptures and installations Wangechi Mutu reflects on sexuality, femininity, ecology, politics, the rhythms and chaos of the world and our often damaging or futile efforts to control it. Exploring and subverting cultural preconceptions of the female body and the feminine, in her works Wangechi Mutu proposes worlds within worlds, populated by powerful hybridised female figures. Heelers is a series of anthropomorphic shoe sculptures; tapping into the spiritual and supernatural, the ancient and primordial, and the terrestrial and cosmological, Mutu’s objects and installations propose a revised narrative of matriarchy and power. Wangechi Mutu was born in 1972 in Nairobi, Kenya, she works in New York and Nairobi.

Lorraine O’Grady (born 1934, US), Lilith Sends Out the Destroyers, archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Baryta pure cotton photo rag paper, 129.2 × 103.8 cm, 1991/2019

The fleet of warships descend from a cloudy sky, pointing toward the ground—a textured human skinscape—to disappear into a horizon line joined together by coarse black pubic hair and clouds. Lilith Sends Out the Destroyers is a title that suggests that these ships have been deployed by Lilith an ancient mythological enchantress who, according to legend, acts in the night, stealing babies from their mothers and engaging in maleficent sexual promiscuity. The photomontage alludes to the systemic violence women have historically experienced and the battleground that is a woman’s body.

Okwui Okpokwasili and Peter Born (born 1972, US), Returning, video work, 09:38 min

Okpokwasili explores the roles of African and African American women by creating multidisciplinary performance pieces that seek to shape the shared space inhabited by the audience and performer. Returning is a video work made with Peter Born developed at Dancespace – St. Mark’s Church, a platform exploring collective song and the body as a site of resistance and transformation. Delving further into embodied protest and song, Okpokwasili continues to explore slowness, walking, taking the first step, getting lost, and returning.

Frida Orupabo (born 1986, Norway), A Litany for Survival, wood, video, sound, 135 × 120 × 60 cm, 2021

Frida Orupabo’s work explores questions related to race, family and kin relations, gender, sexuality, violence and identity. Her work consists of wooden sculpture in the shape of a bed with a woman lying on it and a dog beside her on the ground. Installed next to it is a looped video of Polish cabaret singer Violetta Villas performing the song “Free Again.” The title A Litany for Survival is the title of a poem by black feminist poet and activist Audre Lorde. The discrepancy between Violetta Villas asserting her position as an independent woman, after a breakup, is set against the continued struggle for freedom of Black people, let alone women, expressed in Audre Lorde’s vision. The resting figure on the bed is also a reference to writer Ayi Kwei Armah, who stresses the importance of sleep after traumatic events to survive.

Ebony G. Patterson (born 1981, Jamaica/US), for those in times of uncertainty...., glitter, wax, silk flowers, beads, fabric, tassels, gems and hand-cast plastic Heliconia plant, 2017

Known for her drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations that involve surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads, Patterson’s works investigate forms of embellishment as they relate to youth culture within disenfranchised communities. Her neo-baroque works address violence, masculinity, “bling,” visibility and invisibility within the post-colonial context of her native Jamaica and within black youth culture globally.

Ingrid Pollard (born 1953, UK), Untitled, Photographic emulsion on canvas, 66 × 53 × 4 cm, 2022

Pollard is one of the leading figures in contemporary British art; nominated for Turner Prize 2022. She is renowned for using portrait and landscape photography to question our relationship with the natural world and to interrogate social constructs such as Britishness, race, sexuality and identity. Working across a variety of techniques from photography, printmaking, drawing and installation to artists’ books, video and audio, Pollard combines meticulous research and experimental processes to make art that is at once deeply personal and socially resonant.

Deborah Roberts (born 1960, US), Little Debbie, Mixed media collage on paper, 39 × 38.3 cm, 2012

Deborah Roberts is a mixed media artist whose work challenges the notion of ideal beauty. She makes bold, collaged portraits of Black children that critique societal conventions regarding beauty, the body, and race. The artist combines hand-painted details with photographs, magazine clippings, and Internet images as she conveys the complexities of identity and undermines the limitations with which American culture sees Black youth. Roberts critically engages with image-making in art history and pop-culture, and ultimately grapples with whatever power and authority these images have over the female figure.

Betye Saar (born 1962, US), We Was Mostly ‘Bout Survival (Ironing), mixed media on vintage washboard, 61.0 × 32.0 × 2.5 cm, 1997

Betye Saar calls out racism and stereotypes through text and imagery. She depicts a Black domestic worker wearing a stereotypical servant uniform, complete with an apron. Surrounding the image are phrases, the title at the top of the washboard and “Liberate Aunt Jemima” at the center. Aunt Jemima is based on the stereotype of a mammy but is a figure used by Saar to represent empowerment. This work is a commentary on women’s roles, division of labor, and social class based on race.

Ming Smith (born 1947, US), Pan Pan, gelatin silver print, 50.8 × 60.96 cm, 2006. Remembering’ Billie: For Billie Holiday, gelatin silver print, 40.64 × 50.8 cm. UNTITLED (Self-portrait with camera), ew York, NY, vintage print, 50.8 × 40.6 cm, 1989

Ming Smith is known for her informal, in-action portraits of black cultural figures, from Alvin Ailey to Nina Simone and a wide range of jazz musicians. From early on, Smith work could be characterised as producing complicated and elaborate images with an ethereal quality. Her shooting style often results in out-of-focus images, obscuring the finer details of figure and background. Through this deliberate blur, Smith creates a semi-abstract effect, making her works immediately recognisable but also giving them a unique, dream-like quality.

Carrie Mae Weems (born 1953, US), Untitled (Playing harmonica), Gelatin Silver Prints, 71.2 × 70.5 cm, 1990–1999

Carrie Mae Weems is both image-maker and storyteller. In her widely acclaimed Kitchen Table series, Weems shares an intimate narrative of domestic rituals and relationships. It is a series in which Weems plays the protagonist. She is a lover, a partner, a mother, a friend, a woman. In each image, she is seen at her lamp-lit kitchen table, often accompanied by a rotating cast of family and friends, and sometimes alone. It is here, in the most gendered space of the home, that we see Weems perform the moments of joy, doubt, desire, disorder, loss and courage that define the human bonds we create throughout a lifetime.

Alberta Whittle (born 1980, Barbados/UK), A Black footprint is a beautiful thing, video, 11 min 30 sec, 2021

Alberta Whittle is an artist, researcher, and curator. Her creative practice is motivated by the desire to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods in battling anti-blackness. In her work, Alberta Whittle looks at the shipworm as a collaborator and decolonial agent that has actively intervened and resisted, willingly or unwillingly, the advance of European imperialism by unleashing its hunger on the woodwork of the ships that enabled the colonialization of the Caribbean, where the Whittle’s family originates from. The artist’s exploration of the shipworm began with her wondering if it can feel pleasure. The work is a celebration of small organisms as anti-colonialist agents. The shipworm becomes a sensual symbol of bottom-up power.

Rachel Eulena Williams (born 1991, US), Out Till Break, Installation/painting, acrylic on canvas and cotton rope, 150.1 × 115.8 cm, 2018. Patterns of distance together, Installation/painting, acrylic, dye, canvas and rope on wood panels, 2147.3 × 132.1 cm, 2019

Rachel Eulena Williams works at the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Her reconfigured canvases unbind painting from the stretcher, avoiding conventional support systems and imagining a myriad of spatial contortions. Her evident interest in colour represents a liberation from, and criticality of, Western art history’s othering of colour, and categorizing it as unruly, foreign, and vulgar. Instead, her interest in imagining unrestrained structures exceeds those boundaries and is partially inspired by science fiction.

Eva Livijn is a gallerist, art advisor and collector with more than 30 years of experience in the art world.

Isaac Julien is as acclaimed for his fluent, arresting films as for his vibrant and inventive gallery installations. Isaac Julien KBE RA, was born in 1960 in London, where he currently lives and works. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language.

Ulrika Flink is exhibition producer and program curator for ROCK MY SOUL II (Stockholm). She is an artistic director and curator from Stockholm, currently working at Konsthall C in Stockholm, Sweden.


Juanita Boxill, Isaac Julien Studio

Vladimir Seput, Isaac Julien Studio


Rafaela Seppälä

Lena and Per Josefsson

  • Alexander Gray Associates
  • Andréhn-Schiptjenko
  • Belenius
  • Cooper Cole Gallery
  • David Kordansky
  • Galerie Nordenhake
  • Hales Gallery
  • Hollybush Gardens
  • Jack Shainman Gallery
  • Jessica Silverman Gallery
  • Monique Meloche Gallery
  • Pippy Houldsworth Gallery
  • Roberts Projects
  • RYAN LEE Gallery
  • Simon Lee Gallery
  • Stephen Friedman Gallery
  • Stevenson
  • Thaddaeus Ropac
  • The Modern Institute
  • Victoria Miro Gallery


Lars Høie


Office Times by Boulevard LAB