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The Image Employed

Group show at Cornerhouse. 1987
Date: 13 June, 1987 until 19 July, 1987
Curator: Keith Piper and Marlene Smith
Organiser: Bev Bytheway, Cornerhouse

The Image Employed: the use of narrative in Black art. Curated by Keith Piper and Marlene Smith, whose work was also included in the exhibition. Held at Cornerhouse, Manchester, 13 June - 19 July 1987. Exhibition featured Allan de Souza, Amanda Holiday, Chila Kumari Burman, Claudette Johnson, Donald G Rodney, Eddie Chambers, Jennifer Comrie, Keith Piper, Marlene Smith, [Trevor] Mathison/[Edward] George, Mowbray Odonkor, Simone Alexander, Sonia Boyce, Sutapa Biswas, Tam Joseph, and Zarina Bhimji.

Piper’s Foreword in the accompanying catalogue was constructed around an invaluable critical reading of the recent history of Black artists’ exhibitions in the United Kingdom. Piper provided the reader with a potted history of the emergence of Black British artists and their piecemeal, halting engagement with mainstream galleries. In this regard, Piper referenced exhibitions such as The Thin Black Line and From Two Worlds. He opened with, “So Black art reaches Cornerhouse, and none could say before time. There can be little excuse for Manchester’s premier contemporary arts space to have taken almost two years to even begin to acknowledge the existence of a vibrant and innovative Black arts movement in this country. Until such an acknowledgement is consolidated within a coherent policy and programme of future events, Cornerhouse’s boast of being a ‘nationally orientated and broadly-based arts centre’ will unfortunately remain hollow rhetoric.”

There then followed, within the catalogue, an introduction by Marlene Smith. The early part of the introduction is punctuated by statements, in bold, such as This exhibition exists as an attempt to move towards the formulation of a language(s) (sic) with which to examine Black art practice by responding to the work of a number of Black artists; It is in recognition of the functions that criticism(s) sensitive to our practice can fulfil that this attempt is made.; The Image Employed’ attempts to locate the practice rather than determine it.

Related items

click to show details of The Image Employed

»  The Image Employed

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1987

People in this exhibition + view all 17

»  Zarina Bhimji

Born, 1963 in Mbarara, Uganda

»  Sonia Boyce MBE

Born, 1962 in London, England

»  Tam Joseph

Born, 1947 in Dominica

»  Trevor Mathison

Born, 1960

»  Donald Rodney

Born, 1961 in Birmingham, England. Died, 1998

Exhibition venues

»  Cornerhouse

Manchester, United Kingdom