The Place is Here presents work by over twenty black artists and collectives working in 1980s Britain. Shown across the South London Gallery and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, the exhibition spans painting, film, photography and archival material from this pivotal decade in British culture and politics.
The Place is Here evokes some of the debates taking place between black artists, writers and institutions in the UK in the 1980s. Across two venues the works and archives on display show how a new generation of practitioners were responding to a range of discourses and politics: Civil Rights-era “Black art” from the US; Margaret Thatcher's anti-immigration policies and the resulting uprisings across the country; apartheid in South Africa; and black feminism. This group of artists were also reworking and subverting a range of art-historical references and aesthetic strategies – from William Morris to Pop Art, documentary practices or the introduction of Third Cinema to the UK. Revisiting these discussions today, at a time when the UK is increasingly divided, is both timely and prescient.
At the South London Gallery, a constellation of film, photography, painting and archives show how artists were drawing on myriad forms of representation and storytelling to interrogate race, gender and sexual politics. Different forms of self-portraiture and self-representation appear throughout the main gallery in the work of artists such as Rasheed Araeen, Zarina Bhimji, Sonia Boyce, Mona Hatoum and Donald Rodney. Films by the Black Audio Film Collective and Martina Attille in the first floor galleries show the way in which narrative and documentary were being explored and tested by an emerging generation of black filmmakers.
Image: Isaac Julien, After George Platt Lynes (Looking for Langston Vintage Series), 1989/2016
© Isaac Julien