In a society engineered for white people, there is no end of barriers for those who aren’t. We see it in almost every industry. For example, in the education system where 83% of teachers are white or how Black-owned businesses are twice as likely to be rejected for business loans.
The art world is famously difficult to get into and for years Black artists have struggled to make their voices heard. As the Financial Times says, over the years Black artists have been “written out of history books, ignored by dealers and struggled to make a living without a viable collector base.” This resistance to honour the world of people of colour has only intensified when the subject matter has drawn attention to this struggle. But a change is coming.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, Black artists and their plights are starting to be celebrated, as they always should have. And in the run up to Black History Month, London will become host to a plethora of exhibitions that honour Black artists and, in particular, Black women.
Here, we’ve started to compile a list of the must-visit shows coming up this autumn and we’ll keep adding to it. In fact, if you have any you’d like to shout about drop Megan an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phenomenal Women: Portraits of UK Black Female Professors
What: A celebration of 45 female Black British academics and professors across a broad range of subjects including law, medicine, creative writing and sociology, shown through the medium of black and white photography. The exhibition has been commissioned and curated by Dr Nicola Rollock and photographed by Bill Knight to highlight the fact that fewer than 1% of professors in the UK are Black.
When: From 10 October until 8 November 2020, timed to coincide with Black History Month.
How much: Free
Where: Outdoors, along the Southbank Centre’s public riverside promenade The Queen’s Walk, Belvedere Road, London, SE1.
What: Visual artist Zanele Muholi’s (pronouns: they/them) first major mid-career survey which spans a spectrum of their most intense and intimate photographs. Many of these photographs aim to convey the confidence and beauty of the subject, who often has been subject to prejudice and violence.
When: 4 November 2020 (10am-6pm) and 10 November 2020 (6.45pm-9.30pm).
How much: £13 or free if you’re a member of The Tate.
Where: Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG.
Say My Name
What: Say My Name is an exhibition of works curated by gallery director Khalil Akar and presented by Ava DuVernay to celebrate Black History Month. It will feature 13 African artists and honours the names of Black lives which have been lost at the hands of the police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Signature African Art will donate its share of proceeds from the sales of these works to the Floyd and Taylor families.
When: 27 October until 28 November 2020.
How much: Free
Where: Signature African Art, 20 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 3DT.
Images: Southbank Centre / Getty Images.