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Back to Black - catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2005
Published by: Whitechapel/The New Art Gallery Walsall
Year published: 2005
Number of pages: 192
ISBN: 0854881425

image of Back to Black - catalogue

Catalogue for Back to Black, a large-scale exhibition held at Whitechapel and subsequently at The New Art Gallery Walsall in 2005. It was a major centrepiece of Africa 05 and was the product of David A. Bailey (UK), Richard J. Powell (USA) and Petrine Archer-Straw (Jamaica).

Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imagery focuses on the rise of the Black Arts Movement in the US, Britain and Jamaica in the 1960s & 1970s, bringing together over forty artists whose work defined the emergence of a radical & powerful aesthetic. Their work testifies to a complex & widespread range of influences, breathtaking in their geographic, temporal and cultural sweep. African symbols & traditions blend with images of contemporary life; the symbols of radical, militant activism with an imagined Afrofuturism. Played out across the broad cultural spectrum to encompass the visual arts, film, music & fashion, their work reveals a common visual language shared among artists across the Black Atlantic, and profoundly influential to subsequent generations. We hope the exhibition will address a lacuna in standard narratives of modern and contemporary visual culture by contributing a scholarly understanding of this important black cultural legacy. Back to Black is part of Africa 2005, a year-long celebration of contemporary & past cultures from across the continent & the Diaspora which embraces the diversity of arts, heritage & audience… Back to Black was first conceived by David A. Bailey & Richard J. Powell, who were later joined by Petrine Archer-Straw.”

From the Preface to Back to Black catalogue by Iwona Blazwick, (Whitechapel), Andrea Tarzia (Whitechapel) and Stephen Snoddy (Walsall).

Preface followed by Curatorial Essays: Racial Imaginaries, from Charles White’s Preacher To Jean-Paul Goude & Grace Jones’ Nigger Arabesque, by Richard J. Powell; Be Black Baby: Cinematic Narrative & the Racial Imagination by David A. Bailey; Birmingham & Babylon: Rainbow Dreams Back to Back by Petrine Archer-Straw. There then follows a Works in the Exhibition section. Premonitions [”Premonitions explores relatively early studio art and film that, largely prior to the historic 1965 signing of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, signalled a nascent black consciousness in post World War II visual culture.”); The World is a Ghetto; Tress/Passing; Exaltation/Blaxploitation; One Love; By Any Means…; Lost in Music. Rich Mix A new creative place for London; Essays ‘Brothers & Sisters’ by Kellie Jones; ‘Art & Revolution’ by Kathleen Cleaver; ‘Afrofuturist Cineculture in an Age of Cultural Revolution’ by Kodwo Eshun; ‘Blaxploitation in Africa’ by Manthia Diawara; ‘’No I do not have the right to be a Negro’. Black Vernacular, visual culture & the poetry of the future’ by Paul Gilroy; and ‘Everyday People: Vanley Burke & the Ghetto as Genre’ by Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd. Final sections are List of exhibited works and Author biographies.

Extensively illustrated with colour and monochrome plates. Hardback, 192 pages.

Related people + view all 56

»  Melvin Van Peebles

Born, 1932

»  Charles White

Born, 1918. Died, 1979

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  The New Art Gallery Walsall

Walsall, United Kingdom

»  Whitechapel Art Gallery

London, United Kingdom