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Black Heritage London: Against Punishment

In October 2022, the museum launched Against Punishment – part of the museum’s Black Heritage London series. In partnership with artistic and curatorial duo, Languid Hands, we invited Black Londoners aged between 18-24 years old to join us on a 6-month programme inspired by the Museum of London Docklands’ Executions exhibition.

six young people smiling and holding print copies of a publication entitled Toil

Black Heritage London Producers with Languid Hands at the Toil: unearthing abolition launch event

The successful applicants, Amber, Akhera, Baby Blue & Makella Ama took part in a series of sessions hosted by Languid Hands. Through text, film and group discussion, they explored ideas around prison abolition and the concept of carcerality (which encompasses anything related to incarceration, imprisonment and other forms of institutional punishment). Languid Hands also invited outside speakers to some of the sessions, including therapist and writer Foluke Taylor, and writer, psychotherapist, researcher and activist Dr Gail Lewis.

From January–March 2022, the group collectively worked towards creating their own publication, inspired by conversations that took place during the sessions. Amber, Akhera, Baby Blue & Makella Ama each contributed their own individual writings and worked together to decide the format and design of the publication.

The publication Toil: unearthing abolition, launched in March 2023 at a special friends and family afternoon event hosted by 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning. Attendees took part in a workshop and also heard readings from each of the Producers.

Toil: unearthing abolition is available for purchase. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to 4Front Project, a youth empowerment organisation on a mission to serve young people who have experienced trauma, violence and racial injustice.

To get a flavour of the publication, you can read the Foreword, written by Languid Hands here.

If you are interested in taking part in similar opportunities in the future, or if you have any questions about Black Heritage London, please contact the Engagement Team at [email protected]

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.