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Shami Chakrabarti

Born, 1969 in London

Shami Chakrabati contributed commentary to the A6 sized, folded-down brochure that accompanied the gallery guide for Migrations: Journeys into British Art, Tate Britain, 31 January - 12 August 2012. One side of the opened-up brochure featured a plan of the exhibition’s various components, and brief introductions to each section: Portraiture and New Genres; Italy, Neoclassicism and the Royal Academy; Dialogues between Britain, France and America; Jewish Artists and Jewish Art; Refugees from Nazi Europe; Artists in Pursuit of an International Language; The dematerialised Object; New Diasporic Voices, and The Moving Image. The plan of the exhibition’s various components is intended to enable the visitor to navigate the exhibition in a chronological fashion, as well as enabling them to make the most use of the commentaries by three well-known public figures, including Chakrabati, whose contributions are featured on the other side of the gallery guide.

The guide begins with, “The exhibition explores how migration into this country has shaped the course of art in Britain over the last 500 years. Taking the form of selected ‘moments’ drawn from the Tate Collection - from 16th-century Flemish portrait painters, who came in search of new patrons, to moving image works from the early years of this century - Migrations traces both the movement of artists and the circulation of visual languages and ideas. In so doing, the exhibition raises fundamental questions about the formation of a national collection of British art against a continually shifting demographic.”

On the reverse of the gallery guide, the three commentaries appear, offered by Bonnie Greer, Michael Rosen and Shami Chakrabati.

Amongst Chakrabati’s somewhat cryptic comments in the gallery guide:”This exhibition shows that it is contentious to talk about ‘British’ art at all. Art has no borderrs. I think it would almost be wrong if people got to walk on this journey without some hindrance. Migration is not a freewheeling exercise and visitors should be reminded of this. Rather than wandering freely they should be stopped at moments through the show. Sometimes this experience would be pleasant, sometimes unpleasant. It would be good to show that for most people, particularly people who are not middle class artists, migration can involve a struggle. But then - I would say something ridiculously political, wouldn’t I?”

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click to show details of Migrations: Journeys into British Art - gallery guide

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Exhibition guide relating to an exhibition, 2012