Bubbling under the surface of Africa’s urban landscape is a style of art historically viewed as provocative, empowering and intrinsically attached to black culture. The street art scene – in particular from South Africa – is responsible for the vivid murals and art work strewn across its metropolis and suburbs.
Author: Christabel Johanson
Is black art just a trend? “By putting the power of profit, the power of the gaze and the power of art into the hands of black communities, society can take this to the next level. Coupled with help from allies of all backgrounds then, and perhaps only then, can we say that black art transforms beyond a trend and into a sustainable force.”
Christabel Johanson tries to answer that ‘burning question’.
Lubaina Himid, The Dancing Master (detail of Naming the Money), 2004, courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens
Photography therefore also has the potential to present a reality divorced from the artist’s bias so as to challenge the prejudices of history. The objects in front of the lens must be decoded and contextualised as part of a wider civilisation and context. This is especially true for tribal African cultures.
Christabel Johanson on the representation of Africa through photography.
Kara man painted and adorned for courtship, Omo Valley, Ethiopia
The very fact that 1-54 exists sends a huge message out to emerging black artists and we get to see important and interesting works expressing a dialogue that we can relate to and can understand. Because 1-54 attracts a broad audience it provides an amazing platform and has an incredible reach.
Christabel Johanson in conversation with participants of the 1:54
As powerful and impactful as Williams’ work was at the time – and as successful as he was as a solo artist – it is in relation to his work and service within the CAM that we can appreciate the movement as an act of political and social change. Through the members own creative talents CAM drove for a better representation of Caribbean life, art and community. Outwardly it reflected the culture of the time; it rebelled against white supremacy in Britain, brought its own flavour from back home and together sought to merge the two – much like the ethos of the Notting Hill Carnival.