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Dancing In The Ellipsis // A Cartographer's Black Hole Rohan Ayinde

Talk Rohan Ayinde – artist conversation with his mother Rebecca Spencer-Smith Rohan Ayinde

26 Jul 2022

Rohan Ayinde is joined in conversation with his mother Rebecca Spencer-Smith to discuss his upbringing in London and the influence of Caribbean and black culture on his identity.

  • Venue

    Stuart Hall Library

  • Date

    Tuesday 26 July

  • Time


  • Admission

    Free, booking required

  • Artists

    Rohan Ayinde

Rohan Ayinde is joined by his mother, Rebecca Spencer-Smith to discuss his upbringing in London and the influence of Caribbean and black culture on his identity. Join them for a conversation about the complexities of race and how Rebecca has navigated the nuanced space of raising a black son as a white mother. This talk is an opportunity for Rohan to better understand the unique context out of which his relationship to a black radical politics emerges, and to deepen his awareness of how race has not only impacted and shaped his life, but also his mothers.

Audience capacity in the library is limited and booking is required. In order to ensure the safety of our staff and audiences we kindly recommend that visitors follow government COVID19 guidelines. 


Rohan Ayinde is an interdisciplinary artist based between London and Chicago. His work is centred around creating otherwise potentials (Ashon Crawley), and in so doing breaking down and simultaneously reconfiguring the ideological architectures that shape our daily and generational lives. The landscapes his work explores are formed through the lens of a black radical imagination committed to describing freedom as a horizon of possibility. They are an archive of the journey there; maps/scores under continuous construction and refusals to acquiesce to the dominant structures of thought that frame the world we live in. 

Ayinde’s work oscillates between abstract drawings, audio-visual poetry, photography, performance and sculpture, and is interested in the ways that abstraction can function as a method for thinking about black radical thought as a form, or a poetics. He talks about his work as being “in a constant negotiation with itself, trying to understand the role it plays in building the worlds it is invested in imagining.” Recently, much of his work has been shaped by a dance around the possibility opened up by the (il)logics of black holes, specifically when read in conversation with the historical and material conditions of blackness. 

Ayinde is one half of the wayward/motile collaborative duo i.as.in.we, with friend/producer/dancer Yewande YoYo Odunubi. He received his BA in Cultural Studies from the University of North Carolina (CH), and his MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2019). As Gallery Manager for Blanc (Chicago) he has launched an artist residency program, curated solo and group shows, and held space for emerging and established artists in Chicago. 

He was the 2021 Stuart Hall Library Artist-In-Residence.


Rebecca Spencer-Smith is a Londoner born and bred, though she spent four formative years living in Rome until she was five years old, which helped shape her into someone other than an Englander. From this period, the legacy in her heart is one that carries the warmth of the sun and the Mediterranean soul. On her return, she lived with her parents in North London and eventually crossed the river to her current Brixton home just over forty years ago, where she has grown roots that haven’t released her yet. This Brixton home is where Rohan Ayinde, her son, was born and grew up, and with the support of her village of family and friends, she navigated a life of motherhood, love, work, study, and travel for them.  

She is a counsellor, restorative facilitator, and mediator with long experience working across the public and voluntary sectors in various roles. Her wish has always been to live and work in collaboration with people, valuing respect, authenticity, and open communication. Originally trained as an actress, her creative spirit still bubbles, and she brings that energy into all her work.   

Image: Rohan Ayinde and his mother. Image courtesy of the artist.