The Place Is Here / South London Gallery

The Place is Here presents work by over twenty black artists and collectives working in 1980s Britain. Shown across the South London Gallery and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, the exhibition spans painting, film, photography and archival material from this pivotal decade in British culture and politics.

The Place is Here evokes some of the debates taking place between black artists, writers and institutions in the UK in the 1980s. Across two venues the works and archives on display show how a new generation of practitioners were responding to a range of discourses and politics: Civil Rights-era “Black art” from the US; Margaret Thatcher’s anti-immigration policies and the resulting uprisings across the country; apartheid in South Africa; and black feminism. This group of artists were also reworking and subverting a range of art-historical references and aesthetic strategies – from William Morris to Pop Art, documentary practices or the introduction of Third Cinema to the UK. Revisiting these discussions today, at a time when the UK is increasingly divided, is both timely and prescient.

At the South London Gallery, a constellation of film, photography, painting and archives show how artists were drawing on myriad forms of representation and storytelling to interrogate race, gender and sexual politics. Different forms of self-portraiture and self-representation appear throughout the main gallery in the work of artists such as Rasheed Araeen, Zarina Bhimji, Sonia Boyce, Mona Hatoum and Donald Rodney. Films by the Black Audio Film Collective and Martina Attille in the first floor galleries show the way in which narrative and documentary were being explored and tested by an emerging generation of black filmmakers.

Artists and archives include:

Rasheed Araeen, Martina Attille, Zarina Bhimji, Black Audio Film Collective, Blk Art Group Research Project, Sonia Boyce, Brixton Art Gallery Archive, Ceddo Film and Video Collective, Eddie Chambers, The June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive, Joy Gregory, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Making Histories Visible Archive, Gavin Jantjes, Claudette Johnson, Isaac Julien, Chila Kumari Burman, Dave Lewis, Pratibha Parmar, Maybelle Peters, Keith Piper, Ingrid Pollard, Donald Rodney, Marlene Smith.

The exhibition is curated by Nick Aikens. Archival displays are curated in collaboration with June Givanni, Lubaina Himid, Andrew Hurman and Marlene Smith.