Speaking to Support Structures: Barby Asante
Support is the ultimate offering you can give to a person as they unfold and learn.
Barby Asante – artist, curator, and educator – reflects on how acceptance and reciprocity can form foundations for creative support.
Support Structures for Support Structures is a fellowship which nurtures London-based artists and collectives working with spatial, social and community practices. Initiated with Sumayya Vally – architect of the Serpentine Pavilion 2021 – the programme offers financial support and mentorship, and forms a supportive network of peers.
For this series, we asked each of the fellows in the 2021 Support Structures cohort to reflect on their work in the context of community. Barby Asante is a London based artist, curator, educator, and occasional DJ. Her work is concerned with the politics of place, space and memory, as well as the histories and legacies of colonialism. Asante often works with groups of people as contributors, collaborators or co-researchers.
How do you hold and who holds you?
I hold you with my attention
With my belief in your beauty
And your right to life
I hold you as you unravel, undo, and unlearn
As you discover that you are not alone
That we are interdependent
That we owe each other everything
And that through us working together
Bringing with us our flaws and vulnerabilities
Our bad habits and our viciousness
We bring this with our love and our desire to be loved
The care we share
The joy and laughter that we generate
And the visions we want to bring into being
And you hold me in becoming my very best self
Bringing forth my vision of our collective work
Expressing our interdependence
Our incredible force for transformation
Despite it all
What is support in practice?
Support in practice is the ultimate offering you can give to another person as they unfold and unlearn. It’s like being a doula for another’s creative energy. Sometimes I have experienced this support myself, when I hadn’t recognised that I was too caught up in the grind that burns us all out – and in fact, does not allow us to produce the ideas or creations we really want to bring into the world. In these moments, one of my dear sistas in creativity, life and love reminds me to breathe, reminds me to rest, asks me to take a walk with them. Then, I remember the beautiful reciprocity in the circle of support – that it’s not giving and taking but a never-ending flow from the ones that came before to the ones that will come after. We build on the foundations and prepare the way. We pay it forward and accept that we too will become ancestors. And our legacy will be the work that those who come after us create, which springs from our own work.