Professor Kobena Mercer

Keynote Address


Mapping the Blk Art Group into a diasporic model of art history by looking at 'translations' of the US Black Arts Movement ideas and the prevalence of a cut-and-mix aesthetic


Reframing the Moment: Part One: Raiding the Archive. Introduced by Paul Goodwin


Keith Piper: Pathways to the 1980s

In a video-essay first presented as work in progress at the February 2012 Blk Art Group Symposium, Keith Piper will present a brief history of the Blk Art Group and discuss the socio-political moment of 1980s that heralded the cultural explosion of UK born and educated black artists



Courtney J Martin: Art & Black Consciousness

In 1982, Rasheed Araeen was invited by the Wolverhampton Young Black Artists to speak at the First National Black Art Convention in Wolverhampton. Araeen’s theory of an all-encompassing political black art was tested against other proposals for art as he engaged the audience with his paper, “Art & Black Consciousness.” The paper advocated a confrontational, post-colonial approach to art that was both criticized and supported by various convention attendees. Perhaps his staunchest critic was the painter, Frank Bowling, who, recently returned to London from New York, took offence at the suggestion of black art by any definition or parameter.


Anjalie Dalal-Clayton. BlackSkin/Bluecoat: Revelations from the Archive

This paper investigates for the first time the critical exhibition history of Black Skin/Bluecoat, which took place at the Bluecoat (Liverpool) in 1985 and showed work by Sonia Boyce, Eddie Chambers, Tam Joseph and Keith Piper. The exhibition was a significant site for the assertion of positions that had been held by the Blk Art Group and the exploration of some of the (then) emerging debates of the ‘Black Art Movement’, but it has, until now, been overlooked in their historiography.


Reframing the Moment: Part Two: Art Works. Introduced by Marlene Smith


Rina Arya 'Auto Portraits in the work of Chila Burman'

In this paper, Dr Rina Arya discusses the works of Chila Burman.  In particular she examines Burman’s auto-portraits, which in their simplest form constitute statements of unveiling where the artsit is making her identity known. The self-portrait was widely used by black British artists to address the politics of identity and representation.  It can be conceived of as an assertion of identity in the face of the threat of objectification; it is the most immediate act of naming. 

Ella Spencer  'Maud Sulter: Zabat, Poetics of a Family Tree'

Maud Sulter’s photographs and photocollages seek out black women lost from history and absent from the archives;  ‘Putting black women back into the centre of the frame’ as Sulter puts it. The voids in their narratives force Sulter to imagine the histories of  black women. Playing with representation, the ambiguities of fact and fiction, history and myth, Sulter complicates their stories and our chronologies of knowledge.


Amna Malik ‘Re-conceptualising Black British Art through the Lens of Exile.’

The work of Gavin Jantjes, Mona Hatoum and Mitra Tabrizian was part of the interventions concerning race, identity and belonging in the 1980s but also made by artists whose practices could equally be engaged with the condition of exile. This paper considers how Edward Said’s essay ‘Reflections on Exile’ (1990) might be mobilised to analyse their work. 


Conference Respondents and Closing Statements


The final session of 'Reframing the Moment: Legacies of the Blk Art Group Conference" in which a panel of Conference Respondents share their impressions of the day. The respondents were, Dr David Dibosa, Professor Lubaina Himid, Dr Roshini Kempadoo, and Shaheen Merali, in a session chaired by Professor Paul Goodwin. Followed by a concluding statement by Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph ABP.

Other papers to follow: Video Documentation shot and edited by Dubmorphology