Exhibitions

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

Installation view: 'The Place is Here', South London Gallery, 2017. Photo Andy Stagg.

The Place is Here

22 JUN - 10 SEP 2017, MAIN AND FIRST FLOOR GALLERIES, FREE

Overview

★★★★★ Ben Luke for the Evening Standard, June 2017

★★★★ “Even though it’s tied to a particular moment in time, ‘The Place Is Here’ feels both urgent and contemporary."  Laura Allsop for Timeout, July 2017

"There is anger and energy that ripples through the show and it is both exhausting and exhilarating." Felix Petty for i-D Magazine, June 2017

The starting-point for The Place is Here is the 1980s: a pivotal decade for British culture and politics. Spanning painting, sculpture, photography, film and archives, the exhibition brings together works by 25 artists and collectives across two venues: the South London Gallery and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. The questions it raises about identity, representation and the purpose of culture remain vital today. 

The exhibition traces a number of conversations that took place between black artists, writers and thinkers as revealed through a broad range of creative practice. 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. Together, they show how a new generation of practitioners were positioning themselves in relation to different discourses and politics – amongst them, Civil Rights-era “Black art” in the US; Pan-Africanism; Margaret Thatcher's anti-immigration policies and the resulting uprisings across the country; apartheid; black feminism; and the burgeoning field of cultural studies. Significantly, artists were addressing these issues by reworking and subverting a range of art-historical references and aesthetic strategies, from William Morris to Pop Art, documentary practices and the introduction of Third Cinema to the UK. As Lubaina Himid – one of the artists in the exhibition and from whose words the title is borrowed – wrote in 1985, “We are claiming what is ours and making ourselves visible”. 

At the South London Gallery, where a number of the artists exhibited in the 1980s and 90s, the focus is on how artists drew on myriad forms of representation and storytelling to interrogate race, gender and sexual politics. Different forms of self-portraiture and representations of the body can be seen throughout the show, a recurring device used by artists as a means to explore intersecting questions of identity, belonging and desire. The 1980s saw the emergence of important discussions relating to black feminist and queer positions. Striking representation of the body in works by Claudette Johnson and Isaac Julien for example, as well as documentation relating to significant exhibitions, are included here. Finally, the context of London as a site for political and cultural action emerges across the galleries, whether through documentation of Mona Hatoum’s performance Roadworks in the streets of Brixton following the 1985 uprisings, or Black Audio Film Collective’s video essay Twilight City which explores the effects on London of Thatcher’s urban regeneration programme.  

Artists and archives:
Rasheed Araeen, Martina Attille, Zarina Bhimji, Black Audio Film Collective, Blk Art Group Research Project, Sonia Boyce, Brixton Art Gallery Archive, Ceddo Film and Video Workshop, Eddie Chambers, The June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive, Joy Gregory, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Making Histories Visible Archive, Gavin Jantjes, Claudette Johnson, Isaac Julien, Chila Kumari Burman, Dave Lewis, Pratibha Parmar, Maybelle Peters, Keith Piper, Ingrid Pollard, Donald Rodney, Marlene Smith.

Download the Gallery Guide here for a full list of artworks and archives in the exhibition. 

ACCOMPANYING EVENTS
Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) has devised a public programme for The Place is Here in collaboration with curators Adelaide Bannerman and Annie Jael Kwan. The programme explores ideas around history as a fragile construction where ‘lessons’ of the past, present and future have collapsed one into the other. By focusing on artistic practice, the historical and contemporary critiques of the work, this collision of time and space attempts, in this moment, to reset what is known and how we come to know it.

Visit our 'What's On' page to see the full programme of events.


The Place is Here is curated by Nick Aikens. Archival displays are curated in collaboration with June Givanni, Lubaina Himid, Andrew Hurman and Marlene Smith. The exhibition was originally presented at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2016) and recently shown in an expanded version at Nottingham Contemporary where it was co-curated with Sam Thorne (February – April 2017). It runs concurrently at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art until Sunday 8th October.


Images


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