Wish You Were Here

Heather Agyepong

Wish you were here focuses on the work of Aida Overton Walker, the celebrated African American vaudeville performer who challenged the rigid and problematic narratives of black performers. She was known as the Queen of the Cake Walk which was a dance craze that swept America & Europe in the early 1900s. During the turn of the century postcards depicting Cake Walk dancers were distributed around Europe, which were often grotesque and offensive with the allure of spectacle where the performers lacked agency. Wish you were here uses the figure of Overton Walker to re-imagine these postcards as one not of oppression but of self-care with a mandate for people of Afro-Caribbean descent to take up space. The images explore the concepts of ownership, entitlement and mental wellbeing. Each image is layered with symbolism to illicit a conversation about the boundaries of how we see ourselves both in real and imagined realities.

Artist biography

I am a visual artist, performer/actor and maker who lives and works in London. My art practice is concerned with mental health and wellbeing, invisibility, the diaspora and the archive. I use both lens-based practices and performance with an aim to culminate a cathartic experience for both myself and the viewer.

I've been nominated for Prix Pictet & Paul Huf Award in 2016 & 2018. My work exists in collections including Autograph ABP, Hyman Collection, New Orleans Museum of Art and Mead Art Museum.

I was nominated for the South Bank Sky Arts Breakthrough Award 2018 and was recently awarded the Firecracker Photographic Grant 2020.