NOW & THEN, HERE & THERE – BAM London Conference, 6-8 October 2016

Thursday 6 October Keynote & Exhibition Opening, Chelsea College of Arts

Friday 07 & Saturday 08 October Conference, Tate Britain, Clore Auditorium


This two-day conference will address the understated connections and points of contention between Black-British artists’ practice and the work of art’s relationship to Modernism.

An urge to reassess the legacies of Black-British artist’ practice in the twentieth century brings critical issues to the fore. In this conference, key questions will be addressed: How do artists of African and Asian descent in Britain feature in the story of twentieth century art? How do we come to know the work of art? Conversely, how do we come to forget the work of art?

The keynote address will be given by Professor Kobena Mercer, Professor of History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University. Mercer’s recent work, Travel & See: Black Diaspora Art Practices Since the 1980s (Duke University Press, 2016), provides the ground for conference discussion. In that work, Mercer argues that there has been an over-emphasis on ethnicity and identity politics in the work of Black artists. This has meant that attention has been shifted away from the actual artwork that they have produced. The conference will provide an opportunity to explore more fully the claims that an art historical amnesia prevails in relation to Black-British art. Does such amnesia amount to a forgetting of artistic objects? Has a re-statement of social issues been a distraction away from aesthetic concerns?

Conference debates will touch on: art practice, curatorial studies, critical writing, documentary studies, art history and museology. Events will take place across Tate Britain and Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, within London’s Millbank cultural quarter.

Conference activity will include exhibition visits to: ‘Now! Now!’ (curated by Sonia Boyce at the Cookhouse Gallery)


Nick Aikens / Dr Anjalie Dalal-Clayton / Maria Fusco / Prof. Paul Goodwin / Permindar Kaur / Dr susan pui san lok / Dr Courtney J Martin / Dr Dorothy Price / Prof. Courtney J. Martin / Prof. Kobena Mercer (Keynote) / Vong Phaophonit and Claire Oboussier / Prof. Irit Rogoff / Zoe Whitley


Day One Thursday 6 October
Exhibition Opening: ‘Now! Now! In more than one place’
Cookhouse & Triangle, Chelsea College of Arts
Keynote Address: Prof. Kobena Mercer
Lecture Theatre, Chelsea College of Arts

Day Two Friday 7 October
Session 1: Modernism
Session 2: Artists’ Practices
Clore Auditorium, Tate Britain

Day Three Saturday 8 October
Session 3: Narrating Museums and Curating Collections
Session 4: Critical Vocabularies
Clore Auditorium, Tate Britain