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Bonnie Greer OBE

Born, 1948 in Chicago

Bonnie Greer is a social commentator, playwright, novelist and critic. She was born in the US and has been based in the UK for a number of years. Awarded an OBE in 2010, Greer is currently a trustee of the British Museum.

In 2002, Greer was photographed by Maud Sulter, in the manner of the well-known eighteenth-century painting of an anonymous sitter by Marie-Guillemine Benoit, Portrait d’une négress, 1800. Sulter’s version, Portrait d’une Négress (Bonnie Greer) (2002) is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Along with Michael Rosen and Shami Chakrabati she contributed commentary to the gallery guide for Migrations: Journeys into British Art, Tate Britain, 31 January - 12 August 2012. Amongst Greer’s comments in the gallery guide: “This exhibition demonstrates how, as an island, Britain has always been influenced by the migratory - the best ideas from abroad become incorporated in the culture. I want to encourage visitors to look at the wonderful pictures but also to think about a few significant moments.” Writing about the New Diaspora Voices section of the exhibition, Greer wrote, “This art is what drew me to London. I really believed and still do that we are looking at a renaissance. I was living in New York and I saw this happening and I thought, ‘I have to come to London - this is incrediible.’ These artists are uncompromising. It was important they called themselves Black. It is not just about blackness racially - it is about ‘Blackout. Next Chapter.’ No one had done this before. This is the turmoil of being British of African descent and being urban, individual, non-aligned and insouciant. This is the seed of the YBAs. These artists had the nerve to say that Britishness is fluid, not fixed. Americans don’t challenge being American in this

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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