Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Christabel Johanson

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Black Modernism


Black Modernism was a development that was finding a home for itself in contemporary white culture. Not only did it stimulate wonderful movements like the Harlem Renaissance, it exposed society to black experience and the shortcomings in black rights. As an artistic expression Black Modernism continues to develop and by doing so creates contemporary expression for a new generation.

Christabel Johanson on Black Modernism
Laser Segall, Perfil de Zulmira, 1928.

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Sonia Boyce


“In the Castle of My Skin starts with the metaphor of skin as a covering, a surface, a barrier, a marker of identity and a connector between internal and external worlds. This builds on the intersection of diverse histories as a recurring theme in Boyce’s work…Boyce is fascinated by moments of serendipity that occur when people are brought together without a script.”

Christabel Johanson on Sonia Boyce.

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Mixed Race in Art


In London the Black Cultural Archives hosted a pop-up exhibition covering the stories of Britain’s mixed race babies from American GIs. The photographic exhibit is based on the children born to white women and black Americans. This dichotomy of a bi-racial identity has long existed in social, racial and political affairs. Historically however it has not been given the space to be explored neither by the white status quo nor the black community. Herein lies the difficult conversation of navigating between both worlds and whilst feeling no belonging to either.

Christabel Johanson on Mixed Race in Art
Genevieve Gaignard, Miss/ed America, courtesy Vielmetter, Los Angeles

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Art as Therapy for African Refugees

Therapy5photoMiri Davidovitz

Art therapy is not just used in Western countries but utilised across the globe. In particular it is a useful tool when language is an issue. The benefits of art therapy are even more vital for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the young, or refugees. For example many refugees who have escaped persecution from African countries will have harrowing experiences to process. This is why organisations like Kuchinate are helping ease the pain of integration by providing a supportive community for those who are exiled. Many of the women are survivors of rape, abuse, torture or trafficking.

Christabel Johanson on art as therapy for African refugees
Photo: Miri Davidovitz

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Thabiso Sekgala: Here Is Elsewhere


In a space where racism and inequality are still challenges, Sekgala captured the disillusionment of “Mandela’s children” who continue living through poverty and deprivation. Yet despite the challenges of their material world and living situation, we see that “home” goes beyond physical limitations and wealth. The empathic and compassionate images the artist leaves behind in this exhibition are the images he wanted the world to remember as South Africa.

Christabel Johanson on the South African photographer Thabiso Sekgala

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