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).
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.”