In preparation of Sophie Utikal’s solo show at WE DEY x SPACE, Sunanda Mesquita asked Sophie Utikal, a few questions about her artistic practice and what she is expecting from exhibiting in this particular space focused on BPoC arts in Vienna. Her current series “Threads of Selves” is on view from 12th -29th of October 2017 at WE DEY x SPACE, Kandlgasse 24, 1070 Vienna.

In conversation with Sophie Utikal


S.M.: Thanks Sophie for taking your time! How would you choose to introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t know anything about your art works yet?



S.U.: My work is about stitching together textile fragments into self portraits of the different landscapes and imageries I see within my body. I use very soft and harmonic colors but stitch everything together with black thread, this makes the borders seem very rough. Because my drawings do not care so much about the “right” proportions and are very simple, the images look childish, which I really like a lot. And still, my technique of sewing everything together by hand is such a difficult and also intense process. I think my images are about breaking binaries of simple/complex, soft/hard, beautiful/disturbing, superficial/deep.

S.M.: Textile art production is embedded in many indigenous communities and communities of color- can you tell us a bit more about your work process and if/how you are referring to these herstories? What made you start to work in this medium?

S.U.: Yes, this is true, the women in my mother’s family from Colombia work with textile and produce textile images that are very simple and complex at the same time. They depict scenes from the everyday life on the countryside, farm animals, trees and houses. I was always fascinated by these images and wanted to apply their storytelling to my surroundings, my body and point of enunciation. The way the borders of my textile fragments are stitched together is a very clear reference to their works. In my case though, I chose to use a black thread to emphasize every stitch I make, instead of hiding them, which would a more common method. I want to make the process and the work visible which are necessary to create these highly complex artworks which are usually called naive art in the Colombian context.


S.M.: Can you tell us more about the series “Threads of Selves”, which you are going to exhibit at WE DEY x space?

S.U.: It is a series of my bodies in different situations and moments I have experienced. You can see me in very powerful positions, flexing into all directions throwing knives towards my surroundings but also in more calm in melancholic moments, lying around in my bed on an island. On one image I am embracing another body, we flow into each other and thereby create a new body of fragmented bits and pieces. Right now I am working on a new piece for the exhibition which will show me in a position I learned for healing traumas. You lie on your back and lift your pelvis until it starts shaking by itself. This movement is very common also for some animals like rabbits, that after the moment of danger and shock has passed they start trembling all over their body to release the anxiety and fear. Humans usually do not do this, so the trauma might stay within their body forever. My images are my own way of storytelling and making my insides visible.

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S.M.: You are planning a workshop named “Stitching Stories” which will focus on collective textile painting making. Can you tell us who the workshop is for and what you are imagining as a possible outcome?

S.U.: The workshop with be exclusively for Black People and People of Color. And as a possible outcome I wish to manifest ourselves into a material form, while connecting what was meant to stay separate. While stitching we will talk, relax and meditate on what it feels like to inhabit our bodies and how we navigate ourselves through our everyday life. I will provide all material necessary. There will be drinks and snacks. The workshop is for free. All skills are welcome.

More details on Facebook
Please send us an email to register for the workshop:
And please be on time ♥

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S.M.: Where & how was your work presented before and what did you like about it/ what would you want to be different this time at WE DEY x space? What are your expectations?

S.U.: Until now my work was presented in informal everyday life settings of my home or of friends. I wouldn’t mind if bigger institutions would invite me to do a solo show, since i still depend on their capital (resources, prestige, networks, cash). Still, I would not expect the audience to identify with my works or be touched on an emotional level. I am sorry to say that in Vienna the big institutions are still white ones, that also attract a white audience with their own white reality. Since my images deal with my body which is outside of  the white eurocentric norms, I think the gap will be too big to feel what I feel in my works, but of course I am open for surprises and even hope that my works can create connections where there were none before.

As WE DEY is a self-organized space by black and people of color I also hope for an audience of Black and People of Color. I am the most happy when I feel understood and I really hope that this will happen with people who share some of my experiences as a Woman of Color.

S.M.: We have focused previously on the topic Self Care at WE DEY x SPACE- I would be very interested in knowing what does radical self care mean to you? Did you work before with this particular focus?

S.U.: The process of creating, feeling my body and recognizing myself in Others is what radical self care means to me. This can be writing a letter to my ass and designing free posters with a portrait of me embracing my butt and the love messages I feel for my body. This is what I did in my other work called “culo con orgullo”.  Connected to this work I also did a writing workshop, where all the participants wrote love letters to one of their body parts, then we exchanged the letters and another person answered from the perspective of the addressed body part. It was a very intense, funny and healing experience for all of us.

S.M.: Thank you Sophie Utikal I am looking forward to your Vernissage this Thursday 12th of October!

Sunanda Mesquita
Co-founder of WE DEY

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Threads of Selves” by Sophie Utikal

12th October- 29th October 2017 @ WE DEY x SPACE


WE DEY is proud to present Sophie Utikal’s first solo show. In her series “Threads of Selves” she transforms woven stories of her experiences and thoughts into stunning textile works. Her full body selfportraits aim to show a self confident, empowered woman of color healing herself from trauma. By tapping into generations of knowledge of textile storytelling she finds a way to release anxieties and fears while aiming to empower not only herself but other Women* of Color who share experiences of fighting back against white supremacy.

curated by Sunanda Mesquita (co-founder of WE DEY)

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VERNISSAGE: “Threads of Selves” – 12th October at 6pm
by Ebow
(the artist will be present)
18.10- 6-9pm
19.10 6-9pm
26.10 6-9pm
BPoC WORKSHOP: “Stitching Stories”
22th of October 2pm
29th October 6pm: doors open
6.30pm: Presentation of “Stitching Stories”

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Sophie Utikal (*1987 Tallahassee, Florida). Is now studying with Ashley Hans Scheirl, Gin Müller and Ruby Sircar at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. She likes to work collectively on issues related to her own experiences. Departing from her own body, she tries to translate her experiences into words and images introducing a new possible order to them. It is about the reconstruction of the self. What seemed lost? What is possible in the future?

Accessibility Infos:
X SPACE is accessible via a ramp. The ramp is 76 cm wide and the slope is 9 %. For more information please contact us!
The closest wheelchair accessible toilet is @ Café Oben, Urban-Loritz-Platz. It’s a five minutes distance.

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about WE DEY x space
WE DEY x space is dedicated to amplify the art and culture production for and by Queer/Trans*/Inter/Black People/People of ColorWE DEY x space aims to center marginalised voices, perspectives, knowledges and experiences from different diasporasWE DEY x space will host exhibitions, workshops, kitchen table talks and film screenings around the topics of decolonial art production, community, self-care, empowerment.
pics by Magdalena Fischer

On Wednesday WE DEY x SPACE opened its doors for the workshop “Activating Archives through Radical Methods” during the festival “Another Roadmap School- Intertwining Histories”.

The session united Evan Ifekoya & Raju Rage from Collective Creativity, Rangoato Hlasane, Patrick Mudekereza and Sunanda Mesquita from initiatives in London, Jo’burg, Lubumbashi and Vienna. We had a great time sharing different radical strategies of centering BPoC voices of the Present. Past. Future. from various geopolitical perspectives. We shared resources and toolkits, expanded each others archives and libraries. It was an exciting day full of new knowledge production and community building.


Thanks Raju Rage & Maja Renn for the nice pics ❤

‘Detoxing Masculinity’

22nd June – 8th July 2017
WE DEY x space

‘Detoxing Masculinity’ presents the latest self-portrait series of Amoako Boafo in a solo exhibition. The artist presents works that continue the explorations and engagement with personal narratives in relation to collective histories, as well as materiality, and process. The large-scale oil paintings underline Amoako Boafo’s multifaceted references from the fields of literature, iconography and traditional painting, inspired by his personal quest to free himself from society‘s norms and limitations.

In Detoxing Masculinity the artists reflects on his religious upbringing, toxic notions of masculinity and his transformation to self-validation and becoming. While disrupting the white gaze onto his naked Black body with non-stereotypical representations of Black masculinity, the series can be read as journey, longing for self-love and self-care. Black self-love is revolutionary in a world, which still sees the Black male body as something to be consumed, to be hyper-sexualized and at the same time something to be afraid of.

Sunanda Mesquita
curator/co-founder of WE DEY

WE DEY x space is a self – organised art space in Vienna dedicated to amplify the art and culture production of Queer/Trans*/Inter/Black People/People of Color. WE DEY aims to centre marginalised voices, perspectives, knowledge(s) and experiences from different Diasporas. WE DEY x space hosts exhibitions, workshops, kitchen table talks and film screenings around the topics of decolonial art production, community, self-care and empowerment.

11.01.2016: 19.00 Vernissage WUK Projectraum (
Währinger Str. 59, 1090 Wien
“WE DEY show” with works by Amoako Boafo, Sunanda Mesquita, Belinda Kazeem, Verena Melgarejo Weinandt, Stephanie Misa, Darkmatter & Xana. Live performance by XANA (UK) and Djane Chilo!!
Amoako Boafo and Sunanda Mesquita will present insights in their process of initiating the artist archive WE-DEY.IN as well as invite artists they met on the way to participate in a group exhibition.
During the kültürgemma stipendium the two artists founded- WE DEY, an online platform for contemporary arts. WE DEY means “we are” in pidgin – an appropriation of the colonial language English which is spoken in former British colonies such as Ghana, Nigeria and by the West African diaspora both on the continent and living abroad.
The artists Sunanda Mesquita and Amoako Boafo aim to portray contemporary Black Artists and Artists of Colour based in Austria and abroad, creating a platform which enables networking and exchange.

we dey 1 belinda


“Photography is an opportunity for me to engage deeply with things and it leads me to where my own vulnerabilities are.”


“As bell hooks said- theory healed me. Reading theory that is about me and that speaks to me. But from a certain point onwards it wasn’t enough for me.”


“Photography is a possibility to concentrate on one thing, to engage in artistic research that doesn’t need to be scientific research, that let’s me think on a much broader spectrum…” 


The full interview will be coming up very soon- keep watching this space!

WE DEY is an online platform for contemporary arts. WE DEY means “we are” in pidgin – an appropriation of the colonial language English which is spoken in former British colonies such as Ghana, Nigeria and by the West African diaspora both on the continent and living abroad.
The artists Sunanda Mesquita and Amoako Boafo aim to portray contemporary Black Artists and Artists of Colour based in Austria and abroad, creating a platform which enables networking and exchange. The platform will also provide a space to present current projects and upcoming events.

In 2014 the project was initiated by Amoako Boafo and Sunanda Mesquita and was awarded with the kültüř gemma! scholarship of the city Vienna.

Performative Präsentation von kültüř gemma! & Posterpresentation der aktuellen Stipendiaten!

Samstag, 17. Januar, ab 18 Uhr im brut Konzerthaus.

Zwischen großem Gefängnis, Wienerlied-Baustelle, Schreibtisch und Pfusch. Eine performative Präsentation der Stipendiat_innen der 2. Ausschreibung.
Mit: Srdjan Knezevic, Ivana Marjanovic´, Jelena Poprzan, Yassine Zaitaar

Bei der Posterpräsentation der neuen Stipentiaten sind wir natürlich auch vertreten!