First presented in 2015 at Tate Britain under the title “Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past” the show’s October 2016 debut at the National Gallery Singapore (NGS), entitled “Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies” is curated by the local team comprised of Low Sze Wee, Melinda Susanto and Toffa Abdul Wahed, marking the NGS’s second international collaboration (the first was with Paris’s Centre Pompidou).
This report, commissioned by the Tate Research Centre: Asia, is a summary of a panel organised by Eva Bentcheva, independent art historian and curator, at Tate Modern on 21 November 2016. Entitled A Stitch in Time? Situating David Medalla’s ‘Participation-Production Performances’ between British and Philippine Performance Art History, this panel formed part of Contact Points: a seminar in which participants in the 2016 Tate Research Centre: Asia Visiting Fellowship Programme presented their research projects.
I first saw the Le Brothers’s large-scale three-channel video projection installation Into the Sea (2011) at the 2013 Singapore Biennale. The video featured the identical male twins in a series of beautifully filmed scenes set against the languid backdrop of the ocean. On one screen, the long-haired shirtless pair dig into the sand on a beach, and one buries the other in the sand.
From 6-8 October 2016, BAM in partnership with Iniva presented the Now & Then…Here & There: Black Artists and Modernism conference at Chelsea College, University of the Arts, London and Tate Britain, alongside BAM leader Sonia Boyce’s curated exhibition, Now! Now!…in More Than One Place. In this report commissioned by Iniva, I discuss the extremely rich programme, from which, the notion of “collage” and the imagining of “constellations” began to be mapped out in new, exciting ways.
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.”
April in Paris—the air is still crisp in the late afternoon. People mill around the Trocadéro with its view of the Ei el Tower. A woman, wearing a floor-length red chador covered with sequins, shimmers with each step as she moves near an assembly protesting Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. At first the demonstrators do not notice her, but as she passes them, a few of them suddenly break away to approach her. They talk excitedly at her and take photos. She bows deeply.