Nottingham Contemporary Will Focus on Black Voices in 1980s England

The themes explored in 'The Place is Here' feel especially relevant today.

Lubaina Himid, A Fashionable Marriage (1986). Courtesy Nottingham Contemporary.

A major exhibition highlighting the work of black artists, writers, thinkers, and institutions in the 1980s in the UK is slated to open at Nottingham Contemporary on February 4, under the curation of Nick Aikens and Sam Thorne.

“The Place is Here” will bring together over 100 works by 30 artists spanning the mediums of painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, and archival displays from the 1980s, exploring, according to the press release, “identity and representation, racism and colonial legacies.”

Described as an “intellectually fertile moment,” the institution aims to re-raise these conversations as they feel ever-relevant in the contemporary climate. 

“[The exhibition] takes as its starting point a period of divisive politics and inequality, which we see everywhere echoed today. Many works in the exhibition ask us to consider how we see ourselves as a society, a cultural community, and as the outcome of different historical processes. Thinking about these questions, and art’s ability to articulate them, seems more vital than ever,” the curators of the exhibition told artnet News.

Eddie Chambers, Destruction of the National Front (1979-80). Courtesy Tate London.

Eddie Chambers, Destruction of the National Front (1979-80). Courtesy Tate London.

“The Place is Here” will thus touch upon a wide range of subjects, including Civil Rights-era “Black art” from the US, Margaret Thatcher’s anti-immigration policies, apartheid in South Africa, and black feminism.

The title is taken from the writings of Lubaina Himid, who is also featured in the exhibition and who wrote in 1985, “We are taking what is ours and making it visible.” Himid is currently the subject of two major exhibitions running concurrently at Spike Island in Bristol and at Modern Art Oxford.

Montage is to play a central role in the exhibition, and the show itself is to be understood as a montage itself: “Different positions, voices, media, and archives are assembled to present a portrait of a period that is not tightly defined, finalized, or pinned down.”

Featured artists include John Akomfrah, Rasheed Araeen, Martina Attille, David A. Bailey, Sutapa Biswas, Zarina Bhimji, Black Audio Film Collective, Sonia Boyce, Vanley Burke, Ceddo, Eddie Chambers, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Joy Gregory, Sunil Gupta, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Gavin Jantjes, Claudette Johnson, Isaac Julien, Chila Kumari Burman, Dave Lewis, Mowbray Odonkor, Pratibha Parmar, Maybelle Peters, Keith Piper, Ingrid Pollard, Donald Rodney, Veronica Ryan, Marlene Smith, and Maud Sulter.

The Place is Here” will be on view at Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, from February 4—April 30, 2017.

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