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Coming into View: Black British Artists and Exhibition Cultures 1976-2010

Dalal-Clayton, A (2015) Coming into View: Black British Artists and Exhibition Cultures 1976-2010. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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This study unites the burgeoning academic field of exhibition histories and the critiques of race-based exhibition practices that crystallised in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s. It concerns recent practices of presenting and contextualising black creativity in British publicly funded art museums and galleries that are part of a broader attempt to increase the diversity of histories and perspectives represented in public art collections and exhibitions. The research focuses on three concurrent 2010 exhibitions that aimed to offer a non-hegemonic reading of black creativity through the use of non-art-historical conceptual and alternative curatorial models: Afro Modern (Tate Liverpool), Action (The Bluecoat), and a retrospective of works by Chris Ofili (Tate Britain). Comparative exhibitions of the past were typically premised on concepts of difference that ultimately resulted in the notional separation of black artists from mainstream discourses on contemporary art and histories of British art. Through a close and critical textual analysis of these three recent exhibitions, which is informed by J.L. Austin’s theory of speech acts (1955), the study considers whether, and to what extent the delimiting curatorial practices of the past have been successfully abandoned by public art museums and galleries, and furthermore, whether it has been possible for British art institutions to reject the entrenched, exclusive conceptions of British culture that negated black contributions to the canon and narratives of British art in the first place. The exhibition case studies are complemented and contextualised by an in-depth history of the Bluecoat’s engagement with black creativity between 1976 and 2012, which provides a particular insight into the ways that debates about representation, difference and separatism have impacted the policies and practices of one culturally significant art gallery that is frequently overlooked in histories of black British art. With reference to the notion of legitimate coercion as defined by Zygmunt Bauman (2000), the study determines that long-standing hegemonic structures continue to inform the modes through which public art museums and galleries in Britain curate and control black creativity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: exhibition histories race-based exhibition practices black artists Britain publicly funded art museums and galleries art history cultural difference separatism textual analysis speech act theory curatorial practices the Bluecoat legitimate coercion
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Screen School
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2016 14:08
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 23:26
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00004356
Supervisors: Sheldon, Julie
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4356
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