British Art Network (BAN) Annual Conference | Genealogies of Black Curating in Britain

A programme of roundtables, films and interviews convened by Prof. Paul Goodwin with project curation from Rahila Haque.

Rita Keegan participated in Emergence of Black Curatorial Voices a roundtable panel discussion with long time friend and colleague Shaheen Merali and Hassan Aliyu, moderated by Paul Goodwin. The panel focused on the 1980s and early 1990s when a variety of Black and Asian curatorial practices, projects and spaces came to light and the following questions:

How can we account for the emergence of Black curatorial practices?

How to name them?

And how did they transform the landscape of British art at the time?

Genealogies of Black Curating discussions open up new perspectives and cross generational dialogues on disputed histories, urgent presents and (im)possible futures. Tracing a fragmented history of Black curating in British art: from the pioneering 1980s generation of artist-curators and the rise of institutional and global curators; to the more recent turn to anti-racist activism, collectives, decolonial and QTIPOC practices. The genealogical approach suggests a discontinuous and multi-perspectival take on the emergence, development and futures of Black curatorial voices in British art.

Information about the speakers

Shaheen Merali is an independent curator and writer and is currently a PhD candidate at Coventry University. He has held positions at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art (2003-1995), The University of Westminster (2003-1997) and The Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2008-2003), where he curated several exhibitions accompanied by publications, including The Black Atlantic – Modernity and Double Consciousness; Dreams and Trauma- Moving images and the Promised Lands (Palestine and Israel); New York States of Mind (toured to Queens Museum, NY) as well as leading the curation and global research for five years of programming.

Rita Keegan is an artist, lecturer, and archivist from the Bronx who has lived and worked in London since 1980. Her work explores memory, history, dress, and adornment, often through the use of her extensive family archive—a photographic record of a black middle class Canadian family from the 1890s to the present. She co-founded the Brixton Art Gallery in 1982, established the Women of Colour Index (WOCI) in 1987, and was Director of the African and Asian Visual Arts Archive (AAVAA) until 1994. For many years, she was a lecturer in multimedia arts at Goldsmiths.

Hassan Aliyu is a prominent British-Nigerian artist working in the UK. His practice is informed by race, equality, diaspora, and identity. Having begun his career in Lagos at the onset of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), a significant body of his work is created in a range of alternative, found and inexpensive materials. Deeply thought provoking, his collages respond to the geo-political and socio-economic upheavals that afflict Nigeria; including its civil war and the excesses of Western and Eastern religions.