Identity and (Not) Belonging: Art and the Politics of British-ness in 1980s Britain

Imogen Racz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Taking the ground breaking exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery ‘From Two Worlds’ (1986) as the starting point, this chapter considers the underlying threads of institutional non-acceptance of art by British artists from non-European backgrounds. Including artists such as Rasheed Araeen and Veronica Ryan, the curators Nicholas Serota and Gavin Jantjes sought to ‘avoid clichés’ and ‘boundaries’ set by categories. As well as a substantial catalogue, the touring exhibition received much press coverage. The work displayed was diverse, and reflected the concerns of the artists, each of whom sought to find expression for their own histories through different means. This exhibition was part of a number of small steps of change that happened during the decade. These will be considered, as will the art and ideas of the time of Lubaina Himid, Araeen and Ryan, against the institutional politics of British-ness during the 1980s.

Keywords: British non-European Art. Belonging and Identity. 1980s. British art institutions. Rasheed Araeen. Veronica Ryan.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArt, Borders and Belonging
Subtitle of host publicationOn Home and Migration
EditorsMarsha Meskimmon, Maria Phitiou
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
ISBN (Print)978-1350203068
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publication expected in April 2021


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