Diaspora-Artists logo

Chris Ofili | Freedom One Day

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2002
Published by: Victoria Miro Gallery
Year published: 2002
ISBN: 0-9543085-1-4

image of Chris Ofili | Freedom One Day

Catalogue for solo exhibition by Chris Ofili, held at Victoria Miro Gallery, 25 June - 3 August 2002. The exhibition featured Ofili’s distinctive series of paintings executed in the colours red, black and green. The colours are hugely significant, being the colours of the flag of Marcus Garvey and his UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) that was particularly active from the late 19 teens through to the middle of 1940, at which time Garvey died in London. Arguably of equally powerful symbolism as the red, gold and green tricolour, Garvey’s UNIA flag resonates with pronounced associations of Black Power, Black struggle, and diasporic African identity and the quest for liberation and fulfilment. In his own way, Ofili’s work in Freedom One Day, made liberal use of these associations. Indeed, the cover of this accompanying catalogue featured, in part, a motif of the outline of the African continent, coloured in with the UNIA tricolour.

Ofili would go on to make extensive use of the red, green and black colours, in his work, and the packaging produced to market/promote it.

The exhibition’s paintings utilised what was still, at the time, Ofili’s trademark use of elephant dung, both on the large canvases themselves, and also as supports for the said canvases.

The catalogue features sizeable reproductions of the four paintings in the exhibition, as well as works of poetry, prose, and fiction, all in some way related to the noun, notion, and state of being of freedom. These word pieces were supplied by the writers Francesca Beard, Courttia Newland, Roger Robinson, Ray Shell, Sophie Woolley, Bidisha, and Charlie Dark. During the exhibition itself, Ofili made other use of wordsmiths in an event summarised on the opening page of this catalogue, as follows”

“In the middle of the exhibition’s run Freedom was scheduled. It was described as “a one-off spoken word event [which] took place on Thursday 18 July at the Victoria Miro Gallery to showcase leading artists on the London performing arts scene. Chris Ofili commissioned the authours to produce and perform new works in response to his brief of “freedom” though prose, spoken word and commentary.”

Contents as follows:

Free Fall, by Francesca Beard

Flight of freedom, by Courttia Newland

If freedom was a country, would you live there?, by Francesca Beard


Indian Elvis Girl, by Roger Robinson

Freedom, by Ray Shell

The Drink Kitchen, by Sophie Woolley

Freedom, by Bidisha


Related people + view all 8

»  Francesca Beard

Born in Malaysia, date unknown

»  Courttia Newland

Born, 1973 in London

»  Roger Robinson

Born in Trinidad, date unknown

»  Ray Shell

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Victoria Miro Gallery

London, United Kingdom