Jamila Prowse is never quite sure of her identity; her sense of self is in a continual state of flux. Some days she is an artist, others a writer, researcher or lecturer. Often she feels disabled and can be found working from her sick bed; but some weeks she has a burst of feeling abled. As a mixed-race person, she has the benefit and difficulty of passing (as expressed by Sara Ahmed) and is living proof of the itinerant, mutability of identity formation (after Paul Gilroy). The one constant is that she is continually processing her ever-changing identity and lived experience through her practice; mining the innermost workings of her interior life in the hopes of demonstrating that no matter who we are, we are not alone.
Presently, Jamila is an artist on UAL Decolonising Institute’s 20/20 programme and Sussex University’s Full Stack Feminism Project, where she will be making artistic visualisations of her ongoing research into disability inclusivity and cripping the art world. Her first artist film An Echo For My Father (2021), was commissioned by Lighthouse and considers losing a parental figure and access to one side of your heritage. She is now working on the follow-up films retracing her ancestry and relationship with her late father the South African jazz musician Russell Herman. In 2023 Jamila will continue to work across moving image, textiles and programming while journeying towards her first solo exhibition at Quench Gallery, Margate in September. Jamila is an Associate Lecturer in BA and MA Fine Art Photography and Photojournalism and Documentary photography at London College of Communication, University of Arts London. She is programming Somerset House’s Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy series around disability (2023) and was previously a member of the Brent Biennial Curatorial Committee (2021-22) and residency artist at Gasworks (2021). Previous exhibitions and screenings include Studio Voltaire (London, UK), Hordaland Kunstsenter (Bergen, Norway), Obsidian Coast (Bradford, UK) and South London Gallery (London, UK).
Between 2020-21 Jamila completed an MA in Art History at University of Sussex, for which she won an award for the highest departmental degree in 2021, hosted a series of podcasts for Lighthouse titled Collective Imaginings of conversations with art workers about their experiences of navigating the sector, was a recipient of a GRAIN writing bursary and Guest Editor of Photoworks Annual 26. As a writer, she was previously a columnist for Frieze (on accessibility) and British Journal of Photography (on Creating Change). Her reviews and essays have appeared in Frieze, Elephant, Dazed, GRAIN, Art Work Magazine and Photoworks.