As a curator and visual art researcher interested in activating archives of Black art, looking into Rita Keegan and SLG’s archive presented a fresh perspective of aspects of Keegan’s life, artistic practice and her local community in South London during the pivotal UK Black Arts Movement. Undertaking this research project provided a lens to look at intersections of race, gender and family history through Keegan’s archive.
Her visitors came from around the world and it was quite a commitment for people to travel out to this 15thcentury Tudor palace in the middle of a park in southwest London. Undaunted, there were many Black artists, scholars and students who would make that trip to see Rita. I quickly understood how this feminist art library project thrived and produced new knowledge through the art of conversation and welcome in that front room, and most of this was achieved at Rita’s desk.
Trophies of Empire was a project about remembering, or more accurately about reminding and revealing. The curatorial intention was to commission artworks that reflected the legacies of Britain’s colonial exploits – its ‘trophies of empire’ – that continue to resonate in our cities and towns, as manifested for instance in street names, monuments, museum collections, or in the presence of diasporic communities from former colonies.
Trophies of Empire was a different model to the then predominant black artists’ group exhibition in that the commissions were open to any artist, a recognition that the history of colonialism and empire is a shared one.
When I arrived at Rita’s home to join the project, it dawned on me that we were collectively curating the archival existence with a living artist, that this was to go into one vitrine.
It is a great moment for your work to be exposed to a broader public. Ben Luke discussing Rita Keegan Rita Keegan was featured… Read More »Podcast: Rita Keegan In Conversation with Ben Luke
RKAP wanted to take into consideration the issues raised in regards to the equity of online participation, we hadn’t wanted to make the assumption everyone has access to the same level of resource and or is technologically literate, there might be a need for training and education, even within our team, to help remove some of the barriers in this new environment and landscape.