Khaleb Brooks is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher and writer exploring blackness, transness and collective memory. Meshing the black queer figure with surreal environments in paintings, using printmaking to question the politics of desire and entering transcendental states in performance, they force their audience to confront the literal and social death of black people globally.
Over the last year, Khaleb has been an artist in residence at the Tate Modern. Here, they used the museum’s collection to lead weekly workshops and create work around the Trans Atlantic slave trade. Performing in the 2019 Venice Biennale, consistently pushing the boundaries of art as a tool to politically engage, Khaleb continues to exhibit globally: Institute of Contemporary Art (2020 and 2018), Schwules Museum in Berlin (2019), Gazelli Art House in London (2019), GlogauAir in Berlin (2019), 198 Contemporary in London (2017) and We- Dey Gallery in Vienna (2018).
Originally from Chicago, Khaleb is inspired by the perseverance of black families in overcoming poverty, addiction, abuse and gang violence, alongside drawing upon their own experience of being transgender.
Prior to taking up art as a full-time occupation, Khaleb was an International Development practitioner, having graduated from SOAS with an MSc in Violence Conflict and Development in 2015. In this role, they worked with the United Nations and a multitude of NGO’s throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia. They unwaveringly seek innovative ways to bring their passion for social justice to the creative sector.
Khaleb’s interest in both collective and personal history led them to contact the Liverpool Museum of Slavery, where they undertook a six-month research residency exploring the archives to conduct a broad research project on the history of slavery, and their personal story. Khaleb spent the initial months of this project exploring three key areas; The Middle Passage collection, exploring the interesting and disturbing spaces between Africa and the States. Khaleb hopes to contextualise this liminal space and delve into the relationship between water and people of colour.
This will also encompass the cultural exchanges that occurred during these passages.
The unveiling of artefacts, and the objects used in slavery are hugely important. Khaleb hopes to reimagine these objects in a positive and from a place of empowerment.
Furthermore, from a queer and transgender perspective, Khaleb is exploring the history of the first drag queen William Dorsey Swann who was enslaved in Maryland in the mid-1800s. Originally called Queen of Drag’ this is a deeply personal area for Khaleb, covering the intersectional experience of blackness and transness.
The final months of Khaleb’s time in Liverpool will be spent focusing into one of these areas.