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Hemmed In (The Thin Black Line)

Review relating to an exhibition, 1986
Published by: Race Today
Year published: 1986
Number of pages: 1

This was one of a number of reviews of the important 1985 exhibition, The Thin Black Line, curated by Lubaina Himid and held at the ICA, London. There were several distinct features of this review, including that it was written by Kelly Burton, a Black woman, and that it appeared in the important activist magazine, Race Today, which described itself as “Britain’s Leading Black Journal”. The review appeared under the heading Visual Arts, on page 26, of Race Today, January 1986.

From the review: “Just when black artists thought they were being continually relegated to the fringe art galleries by the “powers that be”, the ICA appears to have gone one better and is currently hosting an exhibition of 11 contemporary black women artists.

The initial excitement of seeing an exhibition of this nature getting wider exposure was short-lived. I was rather surprised to see large, looking and indeed overpowering works of art exhibited within the confines of a narrow and inappropriately lit concourse. The placing of the exhibition does little to display or enhance these dramatic pieces of black women’s creativity.”

The review goes on to discuss several of the works in the exhibition, before concluding, “As the exhibition stands, it is not diverse enough  in its approach or message it is seeking to convey, lacking as it does, sufficient fragments of daily life which we as black women readily recognise as representing “universally” experienced images which attract and absorb our attention. On the other hand as a showcase for the work of black women artists “The Thin Black Line” will no doubt inspire and encourage similar exhibitions.”

The review was illustrated with a monochrome reproduction of a work, simply captioned as sculpture by Lubaina Himid.

Related people

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»  Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

London, United Kingdom