In the 1980s—at the height of Thatcherism and in the wake of civil unrest and rioting in a number of British cities—the Black Arts Movement burst onto the British art scene with breathtaking intensity, changing the nature and perception of British culture irreversibly. This richly illustrated volume presents a history of that movement. It brings together in a lively dialogue leading artists, curators, art historians, and critics, many of whom were actively involved in the Black Arts Movement. Combining cultural theory with anecdote and experience, the contributors debate how the work of the black British artists of the 1980s should be viewed historically. They consider the political, cultural, and artistic developments that sparked the movement even as they explore the extent to which such a diverse body of work can be said to constitute a distinct artistic movement—particularly given that “black” in Britain in the 1980s encompassed those of South Asian, North and sub-Saharan African, and Caribbean descent, referring as much to shared experiences of disenfranchisement as to shades of skin.
In thirteen original essays, the contributors examine the movement in relation to artistic practice, public funding, and the transnational art market and consider its legacy for today’s artists and activists. The volume includes a unique catalog of images, an extensive list of suggested readings, and a descriptive timeline situating the movement vis-à-vis relevant artworks and films, exhibitions, cultural criticism, and political events from 1960 to 2000. A dynamic living archive of conversations, texts, and images, Shades of Black will be an essential resource.
Contributors. Stanley Abe, Jawad Al-Nawab, Rasheed Araeen, David A. Bailey, Adelaide Bannerman, Ian Baucom, Dawoud Bey, Sonia Boyce, Allan deSouza, Jean Fisher, Stuart Hall, Lubaina Himid, Naseem Khan, susan pui san lok, Kobena Mercer, Yong Soon Min, Keith Piper, Zineb Sedira, Gilane Tawadros, Leon Wainwright, Judith Wilson