Transformation and Defiance in the Art Establishment

Abraham, Julia Ann Paige (2012). Transformation and Defiance in the Art Establishment. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.


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The aim of the research is to examine the activist role of the BLK Art Group and argue that it fought against racial alienation in the Western art establishment by using
exhibitions Black Art an’done at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 1981 and The Pan-Afrikan Connection, which travelled through Britain from 1982-1983, as platforms to radiate their political positions throughout Britain. Using these two exhibitions as case studies, the thesis examines theories including spatial transformations from the geographical to the abstract; strategies of dissent against institutions beginning with the art school followed by the art museum; and the public reception of these activities leading to the creation of subsidiary publics. The exhibitions have been investigated in secondary literature, but have not formed the centre of detailed analyses. Therefore the thesis relies heavily on documentary material from exhibition archives. The thesis presents a detailed account of early 1980s black visual culture through exhibitions rather than individual art works due to the BLK Art Group’s activist political aims. The thesis has considered the trajectory of contemporary exhibition and visual culture and placed the Group at a fundamental axis of politically driven artistic practice in 1980s Britain.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


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