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Shades of Black (book)

Book relating to a publication, 2005
Published by: Duke University Press
Year published: 2005
Number of pages: 340
ISBN: 0-8223-3409-7

image of Shades of Black (book)

Shades of Black, subtitled Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain. Book edited by David A. Bailey, Ian Baucom and Sonia Boyce. Published by Duke University Press, Durham [North Carolina] and London, 2005, in collaboration with the Institute of International Visual Arts (iniva) and the African and Asian Visual Artists’ Archive (Aavaa).

From the back page of the publication: “In the 1980s - at the height of Thatcherism and in the wake of civil unrest and rioting in a number of British cities - the Black Arts Movement Movement burst onto the British art scene with breathtaking intensity, changing the nature and perception of British culture irreversibly. This richly illustrated volume presents a history of that movement. It brings together in a lively dialogue leading artists, curators, art historians, and critics, many of whom were actively involved in the Black Arts Movement. Combining cultural theory with anecdote and experience, the contributors debate how the work of the black British artists of the 1980s should be viewed historically. They consider the political, cultural and artistic developments that sparked the movement even as they explore the extent to which such a diverse body of work can be said to constitute a distinct artistic movement. The essayists examine the movement in relation to artistic practice, public funding, and the transnational art market and reflect on its legacy for today’s artists and activists. Shades of Black includes a unique catalog of images, an extensive list of suggested readings, and a descriptive timeline situating the movement vis-a-vis relevant artworks and films, exhibitions, cultural criticism, and political events from 1960 to 2000.

David A. Bailey is a photographer and Associate Senior Curator at the Institute of International Visual Arts (iniva) in London. Iam Baucom is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Sonia Boyce is an internationally renowned visual artist. She is Associate Lecturer in Fine Art at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design at the University of the Arts, London.”

The book is divided into five sections. Part One features texts by Stuart Hall, Rasheed Araeen, Keith Piper, Lubaina Himid, Kobena Mercer, Susan Pui San Lok, Zineb Sedira in collaboration with Jawad Al-Nawab, Yong Soon Min and Allan deSouza, Judith Wilson, Dawoud Bey, Stan Abe, Naseem Khan, and Gilane Tawadros, followed by a section of 31 color plates featuring work by the following artists: Aubrey Williams, Keith Piper, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Lubaina Himid, Sutapa Biswas, Eddie Chambers, Donald Rodney, Lesley Sanderson (four plates), Zineb Sedira (two plates), Yong Soon Min and Allan deSouza (two plates), Diane Tani, catalogue cover of the 1997 exhibition Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain 1966 - 1996, Dawoud Bey (four plates), Hung Liu, Xu Bing, Avtarjeet Dhanjal, Sonia Boyce and David A. Bailey (eight monochrome plates on one page), Shen Yuan, and Sonia Boyce.

Part Two of the book focusses on the conference [Duke University, Durham NC, 19 - 22 April 2001] from which the book draws its title.
Page 166 of Shades of Black outlines the conference’s timetable:
19 April 2001, After the Deluge…, Keynote Address: Stuart Hall.
20 April 2001, Curatorial Debates since the 1980s…, Papers: Richard Powell, Sandy Nairne, Susan Pui San Lok; Panel: Deborah Willis, Shaheen Merali; Chair: David A. Bailey; Session Reporter: Rohini Malik The Thematics and Aesthetic Shifts in Practice since the 1980s, Papers: Rasheed Araeen, Zineb Sedira, Isaac Julien, Keith Piper; Panel: Sutapa Biswas, Ingrid Pollard; Chair: Jane Gaines; Session Reporter: Michael Cadette
Approaches to Diasporic Aesthetics and the Role of Criticism…, Papers: Judith Wilson, Kobena Mercer; Panel: Diana Yeh, Niru Ratnam, Janice Cheddie, Leon Wainwright; Chair: Ian Baucom; Session Reporters: Pauline de Souza, Kelvin Black.
21 April 2001, The Importance of Collaboration in the Development of Practice…, Papers: Lubaina Himid, Dawoud Bey; Panel: Allan deSouza, Yong Soon Min; Chair: Sonia Boyce; Session Reporter: Yeu Lai Mo Historical Perspectives on International Curatorial Debates of the 1980s and 1990s, Papers: Gilane Tawadros, Stanley Abe; Panel: Barbara Hunt, Mark Sealy; Chair: Andrea Barnwell; Session Reporter: Carol Tulloch.
22 April 2001, The Role Policy Has Played in the Development of Cultural Practice…, Papers: Naseem Khan, Lola Young; Panel: Rasheed Araeen, John L. Moore III; Chair: E’vonne Coleman; Session Reporter: Paul Dash. Summation, Panel: Stuart Hall, Richard Powell, Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce; Chair: Lawrence Grossberg. There then follows a major text by Jean Fisher, Dialogues.

Part Three of the book is called Time Lines… featuring an introduction by Adelaide Bannerman to some of the principle elements that informed the history of Black artists in Britain during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, followed by a chronology of exhibitions, films, ‘sociopolitical’ events, and quotes, from 1960 through to 2000.

Part Four, Recommended Reading, features an introduction by Leon Wainwright, and is divided into the following sections: Histories and Positions, Visual Practices, Exhibitions and Display, and Institutions, Policies and Reports.

Followed by biographical notes on the Contributors, Acknowledgments, and Index.

Amongst reviews of the book were those written by Courtney Martin, for Art Journal (CAA), Vol.66, no. 1, Spring 2007; Eddie Chambers, for Art Monthly, Issue 288, July - August 2005; and Douglas Field, for the journal Cultural Critique, No. 72 (Spring, 2009), pp. 231-233. On 1 March 2007 it was announced that Shades of Black had won the Historians of British Art Book Prize, making it the first publication to focus exclusively on Black arts to win the prize, since it was established in 1996.  The publication won in the category of ‘multi-authored/edited volume on a subject of any period.’ The Historians of British Art is a North American-based organisation, affiliated with the College Art Association. The Book Prize Committee announced the best books published on British art and architecture in 2005, at the College Art Association Conference of 2006. Shades of Black was chosen on the basis of its “significance and originality of subject, methodological approach, breadth and depth of research and sources, and excellence in quality of writing and production.”

Related people + view all 56

»  Allan deSouza

Born, 1958 in Nairobi, Kenya

»  Lubaina Himid MBE, CBE

Born, 1954 in Zanzibar, Tanzania

»  Donald Rodney

Born, 1961 in Birmingham, England. Died, 1998

»  Gilane Tawadros

Born, 1959

»  Shen Yuan