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Solani Fernando

Fernando contributed two essays  to Beyond Frontiers: Contemporary British Art by Artists of South Asian Descent, Saffron Books, 2001. The book described itself as marking “the first attempt to survey the work of contemporary British artists whose ancestral roots lie in the countries and cultures of South Asia. For some, their links with the Subcontinent remain present and immediate; for others, they are a barely perceptible trace, filtered through generations of exile and migration.”

One essay was on the artist Chila Kumari Burman, in which Fernando wrote, “Gaining a first class honours degree in printmaking in 1979 and completing her Masters degree at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1982, Burman has been instrumental in opening some of the foremost British art institutions to a politicisation around race and gender. One of the first Black women artists in this country to produce political work, Burman’s take on the Modernist topos of the artist - implicitly middle-class and male - is robustly, mouthily, uncritical:

Freedom what’s that? Woz, IZ, DEAD hard. Stereotypes reinforce MYSTERY.

No art books on are shelves at home. NO paper to draw on. Just making ice cream 99s

Tiger nuts and toffee apples and millions of toffee walking sticks - ART sister art.

NO one listens, suppose they must all think it’s Dead easy, they haven’t a clue.”

The other was titled hair of the dog? It was an illustrated text that took a critical look at aspects of the practices of a number of British artists of South Asian descent. Within the text, Fernando wrote “So ‘Postmodernism’ has been and gone and, with it, other cultural groupings and trends of the 1980s and 1990s. Goodbye ‘identity politics,’ farewell ‘second wave feminism’ and ciao ‘Black Arts Movement’: in artistic and intellectual milieux, these once indispensable ideologies are now considered old hat…”

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