I understand that I will never understand, however, I stand. I repeat this statement almost like a mantra over and over. While watching the horrifying news reports of George Floyd’s death, while scrolling through social media feeds tracking the developments of the protests or outpourings of grief and love, when looking at photos of marches around the world where signs emblazoned with this mantra fleck the crowds. Powerful posters on our news feed remind us, “Silence is Violence”, “Racism is a Pandemic”, “Being Black is Not a Crime”, and call to “Defund the Police,” all highlighting the need for urgent change. There have been mass demonstrations in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement before. This time though, the energy seems to be different; a unifying force is brewing; encompassing all ages, sexes, and races with a strong statement: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
I understand that I will never understand, however, I stand. At Broth, we would like to use our platform to further shine a light on the work of significant black artists and the institutions supporting them. A sea change within the predominantly white art world has been stirring for a while. In 2016, Arthur Jafa’s highly acclaimed breakthrough film, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, illuminating the African-American experience in the US, rose to global prominence and 3 years later his film The White Album won the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The resonance of his oeuvre culminates in the touring exhibition, A Series of Utterly Improbably, Yet Extraordinary Renditions, which traveled from London’s Serpentine Galleries to Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin, and is currently displayed at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto until 21st June 2020. 2019 was a prolific year in the UK for exhibitions of black female artists, among them were Faith Ringgold at the Serpentine Galleries, Howardena Pindell at Victoria Miro, Claudette Johnson at Modern Art Oxford, Ima Abasi-Okon at Chisenhale Gallery, and Helen Cammock, Turner Prize nominee and winner of the Max Mara Prize at the Whitechapel Gallery. Get Up, Stand Up at Somerset House celebrated the past 50 years of Black creativity in Britain in 2019, and Frank Bowling had a major retrospective at Tate Britain. In 2020, the Tate museums were to present 4 major exhibitions by black artists - Theaster Gates at Tate Liverpool, Steve McQueen and Zanele Muholi at Tate Modern, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at Tate Britain. Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus a monumental fountain complete with flowing water- a sardonic reminder of the British slave-trade- was erected in 2019 and still stands in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern as part of the Hyundai Commission. Tschabalala Self a rising painter has a solo show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and was also featured in Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium at Whitechapel Gallery. Community Group Tottenham Rights will present an exhibition later this year commenting on the culture of policing in the UK; included in the exhibition will be a Forensic Architecture investigation of the 2011 police killing of Mark Duggan. In 2022, Sonia Boyce will be representing Britain as the country's first black female artist at the Venice Biennale. This is of course only a small snapshot of the exceptional work that is being made by black artists, and yet it does not spell out equal representation. Nevertheless, it is perhaps beneficial to take stock of where we are, while recognising how much we have still to work on.
I understand that I will never understand, however, I stand. At Broth, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all minority groups that have for too long faced injustice and inequality. If you would like to join us in showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, we have put together a comprehensive list of resources and media links that we hope you will find informative and useful- click here to view all.
by Kat Koch
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- Tags: anti racist, arthur jafa, black artists, black lives matter, blog, Kat Koch, sonia boyce, standing in solidarity