Art Asia Pacific: Empire of Whom? How Tate Britain’s history of the British Empire marginalized perspectives of the colonized

British Infantry Advance on Jerusalem, 4th of July, 1879, 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installed at the exhibition “Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past” at Tate Britain, London, 2015-16. Courtesy Jo Fernandes, Tate Photography.

An essay written for Art Asia Pacific Issue: 100, Sept/Oct 2016

The title of the Tate Britain exhibition “Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past” overstated the reach of the actual show. Held from November 2015 until April 2016 and curated by Alison Smith, David Blayney Brown, Carol Jacobi and Caroline Corbeau-Parsons, experts in Brtish art from the late 18th century to the 20th century, “Artist and Empire” featured 200 selected objects, drawn exclusively from British collections and spanning different historical genres such as maps, heroic paintings, collectibles, portraiture and the artworks made in response to the aftermath of empire. The curatorial description in the visitor’s booklet invited the audience “to consider how [the artworks’] status and meaning change over time. In reflecting imperial narratives and postcolonial re-evaluations, [the exhibition] foregrounds the peoples, dramas and tragedies of Empire and their resonance in art today.”

The numbers suggested otherwise. Read the full article here. aap-100_essay