Sunday, 7 May 2017

Some notes on "The Place is Here" exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary

Interesting exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary a while back entitled "The Place is Here". BFTF had a walk round and learnt a lot!

The gallery describes the exhibition thusly :
"...This exhibition traces some of the urgent conversations that were taking place between black artists, writers and thinkers during the 80s. Against a backdrop of civil unrest and divisive national politics, they were exploring their relationship to Britain’s colonial past as well as to art history. Many artists were looking to the Civil Rights movement in America, Black feminism, Pan-Africanism, the struggle over apartheid, and the emergent fields of postcolonial and cultural studies..."
and was also covered by the Guardian. Nice review here too.

Here are some of the works that most caught BFTF's attention.

GLC Anti-Racism Mural

An example of the Greater London Council's (GLC) anti-racism murals had BFTF going on-line to learn more - which you can check out at A London Inheritance, AliceRoseBell and the London Mural Preservation Society. The specific mural above (located on Lowood Road, E1), however, has not been mostly erased, as can be seen in this GoogleMaps image

The Anti-Racism mural as it appears today

BFTF wonders how many murals there are in Nottingham, how many have been lost, and where there is any Nottingham archive of this artform.

Rasheed Araeen "For Oluwale" 1971-75

It was disturbing to learn, in Rasheed Araeen's montage "For Oluwale" about the 1970s dictatorship in Portugal, who continued to hold onto their colonial "possessions" Angola, Portuguese Guinea, Mozambique and Goa well after the UK and France had granted independence to theirs. The Portuguese authorities became increasingly brutal in their attempts to quash independence movements such as FRELIMO - resulting in massacres such as that at Wiriyamu which was reported in the Times just prior to the 1973 visit by the Portugese Prime Minister Marcello Caetano to the UK.

You can read about how India took back the territory of Goa here; and about the African Portuguese Colonial War here.

Separately, but importantly, the "Oluwale" in the title refers to David Oluwale, who was beaten on multiple occasions by Police in Leeds, eventually dying trying to escape a beating in 1969. You can, and should, read about his story here.

David Lewis "The Game " 1985

This image by Dave Lewis, entitled "The Game", needs no commentary.

Toussaint Louverture artwork

Have you heard of Toussaint Louverture? Until this exhibition, neither had BFTF.

Gavin Jantges - A South African Colouring Book (1974-5)

Another exhibit entitled "A South African Colouring Book", by Gavin Jantges (1974-5) laid bare the ridiculous contortions that South African Apartheid had to tie itself up in; given that skin colour is a spectrum - not a series of discrete shades.The Population Registration Act of 1950 states in section 1 that :

"(a) a "white" person means a person who in appearance is, or who is generally accepted as, a white person, but does not include a person who, although in appearance obviously a white person, is generally accepted as a colored person"

over a period of time, this definition seemed to be allowing too many brown skinned people to be classed as white the definition was changed in 1961 to:

"White person means a person who, a) in appearance obviously is a white person and who is not generally accepted as a Colored person; or b) is generally accepted as a white person and is not in appearance obviously not a white person."

However, this also proved to be insufficently impervious to "misapplication", one notable case being that of a child who was darker skinned than her ("white" siblings) and was placed in the "coloured" category, meaning that she could only live at home as a domestic servant.

So it 1967 further legislation used, predictably complex, wording which included the following:
" deciding whether any person is in appearance obviously a white person or not a white person within the meaning of the definition of “white person” in subsection (1), his habits. education and speech and deportment and demeanour in general shall be taken into account; (b) it shall, in the absence of proof that any person is generally accepted as a white person or a Bantu, be assumed that he is generally accepted as a coloured person except where such person is in appearance obviously a member of an aboriginal race or tribe of Africa;
(c) a person shall be deemed not to be generally accepted as a white person, unless he is so accepted in the area in which or at any place where he—
(i) is ordinarily resident;
(ii) is employed or carries on business;
(iii) mixes socially or takes part in other activities with other members of the public,
and in his association with the members of his family and any other persons with whom he lives;"

This was by no means the limit of ridiculousless that Apartheid legislation reached - see here about "Honorary whites"

Lumaina Himid "Thin Black Line(s)"

Lastly but not leastly, an interesting "underground" map of Black artists by Lumaina Himid