Lisson Gallery

Watch now: BlackMass Publishing in conversation with Grace Wales Bonner

9 January 2023

Founded by Yusuf Hassan in 2019, BlackMass Publishing is a New York-based collective and independent press promoting publishing material by black artists and cultural producers. Guided by an improvisational process informed by jazz poetics and various other black aesthetic modalities, their books and zines place archival images and texts in affective proximity to facilitate conversation and foster community.

On 8 November 2022, ahead of the London release of their latest publication 'a tooth for a tooth' at Tenderbooks, Lisson Gallery hosted a conversation between founder, Yusuf Hassan, frequent collaborator, Kwamé Sorrell, and Grace Wales Bonner. The conversation was moderated by cultural researcher, Liam Sangmuah. BlackMass additionally presented a selection of visual materials informing their practice in the gallery.

At once a structure of coherent units and a collection of disjointed parts, BlackMass invokes an aggregate of Blackness, of matter in resistance. Combining archival photographs and found print material with poetry and jazz music, BlackMass grapples with the blurred lines and idiosyncrasies which make up the collective improvisation of African diasporic culture. BlackMass have publications included in the permanent book collections of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, RAW Material Company, Dakar, Center for Book Arts, New York, The Thomas J. Watson Library, New York, The Whitney Museum Library, New York, The Houghton Library, Cambridge, The Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, New York, The New York Public Library, and The Evergreen State College, Washington.

Grace Wales Bonner lives and works in London. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of Wales Bonner. While she sees herself primarily as a researcher, her expansive artistic practice extends to include curation, filmmaking and publishing. In 2019 she curated her first institutional exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery entitled A Time For New Dreams. She has recently launched a four-year project, Between Critique and Hope, at the University of Applied Arts Vienna where she is also Head of the Department of Fashion Design. The project attempts to use the poly rhythmicality of Afro-Atlantic musical and artistic forms as the organizing principle for an alternative archival practice. For her work at Wales Bonner, Grace has been awarded numerous awards including the LVMH Young Designer Prize (2016) and the CFDA International Men's Designer of the Year (2021). She has also collaborated with brands including adidas Originals, Anderson & Sheppard, and Dior.

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