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Born 1995, Lomé, TOGO 


Research-based Artistic Pratice : TEETH KISSIN' On-going Series (2020-Present)

WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING LATELY (2023), explores archival imagery as a potent source of poetic utterance. Combining photographic, musical, and literary references, Southgate-Smith’s compositions capture fragments of black experiences with multi-sensory resonance, allowing viewers to engage with the deliberate interventions both intellectually and emotionally. The series’ title is borrowed from Jamaica Kincaid’s 1981 short story, featuring an introspective narrative and a protagonist recounting moments from her life that blur the line between memory and imagination. Southgate-Smith aims to embody a similar approach to storytelling, where historical and cultural anchors, alongside the creative potential of archives, are used to visually convey the collective complexities and realities of the black experience. Much of the original imagery for the series is sourced from John H. White’s photographic series Portrait of Black Chicago, which resides within the National Archives and Records Administration (United States). Originally commissioned as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s DOCUMERICA project, White was assigned to document “subjects of environmental concern” on the South Side of Chicago in 1973–74, but instead found a resilient community of Black residents facing difficult circumstances with “spirit, love, zeal, pride and hope.”

TEETH KISSIN' Solo Show (2023) 
Installation view of TEETH KISSIN' at SOUP Gallery, London. Photo: Peter Otto; Courtesy: The Artist and SOUP Gallery, London.    
List of Works: Divine Southgate-Smith,
Downstairs: TEETH KISSIN’ ‘‘History is so much more than just a historical document’’ (2023), Playlist in conversation with Daniel Kabuya, Distributed on Spotify, LIVE Edit; ‘‘FOR TOMORROW’’ (2023), Archival digital collage, Inkjet, EPSON Matt Photo Paper, Metal Binder, 100cm x 160cm; ‘‘...COMME UN JOUR’’ (2023), Collage of research, Laser Print, Recycled Paper, Metal Clip, Size variable; ‘NEATH THE MANGO TREE, TOMORROW IS MY TURN, WATERING SEEDS, READING IN-BETWEEN SPACES, OWARE (2023) From the series TEETH KISSIN’ What I’ve Been Doing Lately, Archival digital collage, Giclée, Hahnemühle Bamboo mounted on Aluminium, 53cm x 61cm; Upstairs: PAST, IS MOURNING (2023), From the series MELA-9, Sculpture, Resin cast, RED, 32cm x 21cm x 15cm; I SEARCH (2023), Items from home displayed alongside Past, is mourning (2023), # At the Bottom of the River. Jamaica Kincaid (1983) # Voices from twentieth-century Africa: Griots and Towncriers. Chinweizu (1989) # TEETH KISSIN’ Where Elephants Reside. Divine Southgate-Smith (2022) # Oware, a traditional game played in West Africa and the Caribbean known to be over 15,000 years old # Kissing cup. Ceramic made and gifted by Japanese Ceramicist Sharlen Nowaza (2022) # Gifts commemorating our Ancestors. Mask of Tengu (Demi-God) accompanied by a letter from Japanese Ceramicist Sharlen Nowaza (2022) # Hosho, part of the percussion family in traditional Zimbabwean music, can also be found in Ghana # Bronze Banga Nut, wax print on Ankara cotton fabric # Communications regarding the loan of the Suku cups (object refs. 257 and 258) from the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts # Excel file detailing the artist's attempt at accessing images from various archives in the UK and Europe (2022) # Rejected letter for copyright usage from The British Museum (2022); PERMANENTLY ON LOAN (2023), Single-channel film, 01:59 looped sequence;

For TEETH KISSIN',” Southgate-Smith presents a selection of artworks from her/their ongoing photographic collage series What I’ve Been Doing Lately and sculptural series MELA-9, the latter accompanied by an assortment of the artist’s own collected miscellanea and a corresponding research archive kindly loaned from the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts in Norwich. These feature alongside new collaged constructions and a complementary playlist created in conversation with Daniel Kabuya. The exhibition’s title references the nuanced non-verbal gesture of “kissing your teeth,” which since childhood the artist has employed as an expression of objection, agreement, ridicule and love. An intimate communicative tool used habitually in Black communities to convey a variety of emotions or opinions, here Southgate-Smith adopts the moniker as short-hand for a space within which the personal, historical or cultural can be addressed through storytelling and collective healing.