24th May, 2022 / 19:30
6th October, 2016
How do artists of African and Asian descent in Britain feature in the story of twentieth century art?
The Now & Then… Here & There conference will address the understated connections between Black-British artists’ practice and the work of art’s relationship to Modernism.
The implied oversight has been highlighted in Kobena Mercer’s Iconography after Identity (2005), where he suggests that an art historical amnesia prevails in relation to Black-British art; of forgetting the artistic object in favour of discussions about ethnicity and identity politics. The result of this focus, Mercer argues, inevitably deflects attention away from the work of art.
An urge to reassess the legacies of Black-British artist’ practice in the twentieth century and beyond has led to the posing of several questions. Not least amongst them, questions that turn our attention to the varied forms of production throughout that period: ‘How do we come to know the work of art?’ Conversely, ‘How do we come to forget the work of art?’ In its primary formulation, this forms the basis of an epistemological inquiry, situated within the disciplinary framework of art history.
Associated discourses, such as museology, curatorial studies and documentary studies will also be marshalled to develop trans-disciplinary tools to pursue this central inquiry.
As an organising principle, the conference will look at the temporal (across generations of practice) and the spatial (narratives of the transnational), as crucial frames to the story of twentieth century art.
This two-day conference will address the understated connections and points of contention between Black-British artists’ practice and the work of art’s relationship to Modernism.