BLACK ART MATTERS: Reflecting on the life, works and art-political legacy of Donald Rodney, 1961-1998

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Black Art Matters’ (first broadcast on 29 June 2017) is available to listen to online via the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk. This 30-minute programme features Professor Sonia Boyce MBE (RA) in conversation with family members and friends of the British contemporary visual artist Donald Rodney (1961-1998) – one of the most central and important founding figures involved in the Midlands-based ‘Blk Art Group’ during the 1980s, who sadly passed away two decades ago (due to the illness Sickle Cell).

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Contemporary British artist, and Royal Academician, Professor Sonia Boyce MBE narrates the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Black Art Matters’ about the life and works of Donald Rodney. (URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08vzrth).

Boyce begins her reflective voice-over with a review of Donald Rodney’s visceral and racially charged installation piece The House that Jack Built” (1987). Her perceptive commentary is layered and interspersed with other art-historical observations taken from interviews with several contributing artists and guests who attended the exhibition launch reception for “The Place is Here” (Nottingham Contemporary, 4 February – 30 April 2017).

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Exhibition view of “The House that Jack Built” (1987), by Donald Rodney, displayed as part of the contemporary art exhibition The Place is Here (Nottingham Contemporary, UK, 2017) about the British Black Art movement in the 1980s. Photo: Carol Dixon.

Rodney’s complex, hard-hitting and unsettling mixed-media installation features a set of x-rays of the artist’s body arranged against the gallery wall to form the silhouetted structure of a house, overlaid with white-painted text and pictorial imagery commenting on the traumas and enduring legacies of enslavement, racial segregation, the brutalities of apartheid and other forms of racialized, anti-black violence throughout world history. Prominently positioned on a chair in front of the “house” is a seated figure, with a large tree-like structure sprouting from the neck of a paint-splattered striped shirt to create the slumped frame of a man’s body.
Continue reading BLACK ART MATTERS: Reflecting on the life, works and art-political legacy of Donald Rodney, 1961-1998

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‘GHOSTS: Technologies/Subjectivities’ – Artistic conversations about the ‘techno-cultural’…

On 15th January 2015 I was pleased to attend a contemporary art lecture from the series ‘GHOSTS: Technologies/Subjectivities’ at Camberwell College of Art (UAL: University of the Arts, London). This session featured a series of presentations about  aesthetic responses  by black British artists to an increasingly ‘techno-cultural’ and globalised art world (esp. over the past two decades) – with an introductory presentation from the event’s co-facilitator Professor Paul Goodwin (Chair of Black Art and Design, UAL)*; and additional practitioner commentaries by multimedia artist Gary Stewart (former Head of New Media at the Institute of International Visual Arts (InIVA), 1995-2011) and artist-curator and academic Dr Keith Piper (http://www.keithpiper.info/).

(Left to right): Professor Paul Goodwin in conversation with Dr Keith Piper and Gary Stewart (GHOSTS: Technologies/Subjectivities Lecture Series, UAL, 15/01/2015.
(Left to right): Professor Paul Goodwin in conversation with Dr Keith Piper and Gary Stewart (GHOSTS: Technologies/Subjectivities Lecture Series, UAL, 15/01/2015)

Continue reading ‘GHOSTS: Technologies/Subjectivities’ – Artistic conversations about the ‘techno-cultural’…