No But Where Are You Really From? – new UK-wide public art show examines identity

Larry Achiampong and Reena Kallat are among the artists responding in personal and political ways for the exhibition by Artichoke curated by Bakul Patki.

4 September 2023

No But Where Are You Really From? – it’s an all-too-familiar question to people of colour particularly, and a poignant theme for Artichoke’s latest UK-wide public art exhibition. 11 artworks created in response to this theme are to be displayed on thousands of outdoor digital screens and billboards around the country for a month, intended to prompt new perspectives and debate around this contentious question among the general public, outside the walls of a gallery.

Created in collaboration with public artist Martin Firrell and curated by Bakul Patki, the collection comprises four commissioned works and seven selected from a global open call that received 900 entries. The responses explore “identity, origin, heritage, belonging, and what it means to be ‘from somewhere’”, say the organisers, and address a vital topic tackled daily by many. Patki comments: “Today, as people and ideas increasingly move and migrate across the globe, and heritages are increasingly hybrid, one might presume a question like this would be redundant. However, a quick glance at the headlines reminds us that debates around place, belonging and identity are far from resolved.”


Reena Kallat: Pattern Recognition (Copyright © Reena Kallat, 2023)

Larry Achiampong’s Pan African Flag for the Relic Travellers’ Alliance (Dualities) is part of the artist’s ongoing Relic Traveller project, digging into postcolonial perspectives and the connection between those born in Africa and those of the diaspora.

Reena Kallat’s Pattern Recognition appropriates the Snellen Eye Chart format to illustrate the evolution of travel liberties; while Fiona McBennett uses AI to explore the feelings of rootlessness and cultural dysphoria she has experienced as a bi-racial woman.

Osman Yousefzada’s More Immigrants Please aims to reimagine migration discourse by introducing positive vocabulary and subverting the visual language of barricade tape usually associated with exclusion.

Arts charity Artichoke is known for its large scale, democratic approach to public arts projects. No But Where Are You Really From? is its third season of its initiative with Martin Firrell called The Gallery, which sets out to challenge traditional models of viewing art. The first season invited works in response to the theme Straight White Male, while the second was titled The State We’re In.

No But Where Are You Really From? will be displayed on outdoor digital screens and billboards until 2 October. A special exhibition of all three seasons’ work will also be on display at London’s Truman Brewery from 6-9 September.


Osman Yousefzada: More Immigrants Please (Copyright © Osman Yousefzada, 2023)


op.x: Fragile (Copyright © op.x, 2023)


Ian Wainaina: Home Is Far Away (Copyright © Ian Wainaina, 2023)


Fiona McBennett: So... Where Are You Really From (Copyright © Fiona McBennett, 2023)


Yasmin Nicholas: Does This Answer Your Question (Copyright © Yasmin Nicholas, 2023)

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Larry Achiampong: Pan African Flag for the Relic Travellers’ Alliance (Dualities) 2021-2023 (Copyright © Larry Achiampong, 2023)

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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