| FEATURES 02 | BLACK ART UK/US |
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‘We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85’ 2017 installation view, Brooklyn Museum
‘Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the 1960s’ installation view, Brooklyn Museum
‘The Place is Here’ 2017 installation view, South London Gallery positioned itself at the vanguard of expediting this process of historical recovery – an exemplar being ‘Thin Black Line(s)’ in 2011, a reworking of ‘The Thin Black Line’ curated by Lubaina Himid and originally presented in the ICA corridor exhibition space in 1985. There are many other examples, including displays involving artists such as Donald Rodney, Anwar Jalal Shemza and Frank Bowling. There have also been notable recent acquisitions of work by Rasheed Araeen, Keith Piper and Eddie Chambers, from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s respectively. The documentary photography exhibition ‘Stan Firm Inna Inglan: Black Diaspora in London, 1960-70s’ brings together the work of Bandele ‘Tex’ Ajetunmobi, Raphael Albert, James Barnor, Colin Jones, Neil Kenlock, Dennis Morris, Syd Shelton and Al Vandenberg. Such activities clearly serve a wider public benefit in rightfully diversifying and enhancing public collections and perceptions of British (art) history. But do such acts of recovery and recognition inherently adequately redress the decades of historical neglect?
‘The Place is Here’ (Reviews AM404), organised by Nottingham Contemporary (an expanded version of ‘Thinking Back: A Montage of Black Art in Britain’ shown at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2016) and touring to South London Gallery and MIMA, is the largest of the recent historical exhibitions about black art. Although organised prior to ‘Soul of a Nation’ its curatorial rationale bears an uncanny resemblance to it, in that it was organised thematically rather than chronologically and reflected on ‘some of the urgent and wide-ranging conversations taking place between black artists, writers, thinkers and institutions in the UK in the 1980s’. Much celebrated, ‘The Place is Here’ illustrates the paradox and limitations in the current
OCT 17 | ART MONTHLY | 410