"Rasheed Araeen and Great Britain’s 'Black Art'." A Lecture by Iaroslav Volovod

"Rasheed Araeen and Great Britain’s 'Black Art'." A Lecture by Iaroslav Volovod"Rasheed Araeen and Great Britain’s 'Black Art'." A Lecture by Iaroslav Volovod


The lecture by Iaroslav Volovod, co-curator of Rasheed Araeen. A Retrospective, will touch upon representational mechanisms in the practice of British emigrant artists, their fight for acquiring visibility, as well as some key exhibitions and projects, organized by the so-called “black artists” in the UK, especially the artists of South Asian descent.

The partition of British India in 1947 became the apotheosis of a lengthy national liberation movement in South Asia. The establishment of independent India and Pakistan and the immediate bloody confrontation between these two young states led to the intensification of migrant flows into the former colonial metropolia.

The second half of the twentieth century saw extensive migration that allowed South-Asian artists, poets, and intellectuals from other parts of the rapidly disintegrating British Empire to become increasingly enmeshed in the total modernist project. One of the leading figures in this movement was the Pakistani artist, curator, and essayist Rasheed Araeen, a pioneering activist of anticolonial movement in art.

The climax of Araeen’s multifaceted practice in fighting for justice—both using creative methods, via universal geometric shapes, and political strategies, via essays, performances and exhibition projects exposing racism—fell in the 1980s. It was the decade in the history of Britain that saw the emergence of an exhibition infrastructure for artists of non-European descent, alongside a radical transformation of the art scene. One of the resulting effects of that transformation was the development of a specific conglomerate of artistic forces—the so-called “black art”. The “explosive” creative activity (in the words of cultural theorist Stuart Hall) of emigrant artists was made possible due to the consolidation of different diasporas. This is how the rapid development of formal and informal networks and alliances with Caribbean and African artists became one of the strategic answers to institutional racism for South Asian artists living in the UK.


Iaroslav Volovod (b. 1991, Murmansk) is a curator at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. He graduated from the Oriental Faculty of St. Petersburg State University and received a master's degree in curatorial studies from the joint program of Bard College (New York) and St. Petersburg State University. He trained at the Central Institute of Hindi (New Delhi) and Heidelberg University, was a member of the TRANScuratorial Academy (Berlin / Mumbai) program, and collaborated with the Calvert 22 Foundation (London), the PRO ARTE Fund for Culture and Art (St. Petersburg), the international organization CEC ArtsLink (New York / St. Petersburg) and other institutions. He was twice nominated for the Sergei Kuryokhin award in the field of contemporary art in 2015 and 2016. Recent curatorial projects include: She. The Title of Artist (co-curated with Masha Godovannaya and Yana Mikhalina), Museum of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg (2015); Mirages of Bollywood, Vertical Gallery, St. Petersburg (2016); Topology of a Phantom City (co-curated with Andrei Misiano), New Holland: Cultural Urbanization, St. Petersburg (2017); Congo Art Works: Popular Painting (co-curated with Sammy Baloji, Bambi Ceuppens and Valentin Diaconov), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (2017); a good neighbour (collaboration with the Istanbul Biennial), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (2017); Infinite Ear (co-curated with Council and Anastasia Mityushina), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (2018); The Fabric of Felicity (co-curated with Valentin Diaconov and Katya Lazareva), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (2018); Rasheed Araeen. A Retrospective (co-curated with Nick Aikens, Kate Fowle, and Valentin Diaconov), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (2019); Bureau des transmissions (co-curated with Olga Dieva), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (2019). Author of multiple articles in exhibition catalogues and periodicals, he lives and works in Moscow.


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