Black Art Matters – Paul Carter Robinson

Black Lives Matter

This is long overdue, but under the worrying circumstances that have dominated the news in the past week, I feel it is essential to voice an opinion representing Artlyst, otherwise, we are complacent and irrelevant. This opinion piece is not meant to grandstand or appropriate from Black Culture, something that I have such deep-rooted respect for. I am humbled as I write this.

Racism, violence and police brutality has no place in today’s society

Racism, violence and police brutality has no place in today’s society. Yet these ugly manifestations still exist. This is not strictly a US problem. It is global but closer to home, England is a country with a problematic history of its own. We have learned few lessons from the 1958/1976 Notting Hill Riots, 1968 US Race riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, 1991 Rodney King riots and closer to home, the riots provoked by the cold-blooded murder of Mark Duggan in 2011 by the Met Police. I pray that the outcry of international condemnation for the unlawful murder of George Floyd is a turning point and not just a flashpoint. 

The Turner Prize-winning artist/filmmaker Steve McQueen dedicated his Cannes Film Festival entries this year to George Floyd’s memory. McQueen said: “I dedicate these films to George Floyd and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the US, the UK and elsewhere.”

Systemic racism must be rooted out of our culture and industry. The only way to do so is through direct action followed by a ground-upwards reevaluation of how we treat people of colour in the UK and beyond. It is great to see so many millennials out protesting. They are the next generation of power and clearly realise that society is broken and in desperate need of mending.

The often elitist frieze magazine stated in their weekly newsletter:

‘There is much that the art world, including this organisation, has to learn, do and change. It is necessary work that cannot wait; we are actively rethinking our editorial priorities to better reflect our communities.’ We agree!

For a start, if you can afford to donate, here is a list of charities that we recommend:

or via ActBlue which will split donations amongst organisations fighting against racism and police brutality:

In addition, here are a few based in the UK:

We all need to be better informed. Read this list by Ibram X Kendi published in the New York Times in 2019 and educate yourself:  Anti-Racism Reading List

There are many prominent and highly regarded people of colour in our industry as highlighted in the Artlyst Alternative Power 100 lysts: Kara Walker, John Akomfrah, Isaac Julian CBE, Sir Steve McQueen CBE, Arthur Jafa , Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Yinka Shonibare, Lubaina Himid, Helen Cammock, Anish Kapoor, Larry Achiampong, Sheryll Catto, Sir David Adjaye OBE RA, Ibrahim Mahama, to name a few. We celebrate their power to create. Now more than ever, Black Art matters. If the medium is the message, visual art has a significant role to play communicating that message. 

Words: P C Robinson Artlyst Editor © Artlyst 2020 Top Photo Oliver Malin Black Lives Matter outside the National Gallery © Artlyst 2020

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