The Art of Immigration
Image: Steve McQueen
Just what do migrant workers contribute to the UK? It’s a question being asked by Immigration Minister Damian Green, who this week will reveal details of the government’s new immigration policy. But it’s a question also being asked by art gallery Tate Britain. On Tuesday, a new exhibition will open which explores how British art has been shaped by the impact of migrant artists
As an island nation, it’s perhaps easy to think of ourselves as a homogenised culture that didn’t become subject to external influences until the post-war immigration of the 20th century. But the Migrations exhibition argues that this interchange of ideas and influences had already been going on for centuries beforehand. As curator Lizzie Carey-Thomas said: “What we’re really saying is you can’t consider the history of British art without considering the history of migration and impact it had on art.”
Migrations is an exhibition notable primarily for its theme rather than the work itself – most of which comes from Tate’s permanent collection so may already be familiar to regular visitors. That’s not to say that there aren’t some surprises, primarily the more recent film and video work by artists such as Steve McQueen, Francis Alys and Zineb Sedira. But the show is at its strongest when encouraging us to think again about Tate’s collection – and what, in fact, we understand by the term “British art”.
So the exhibition explores how American artist Whistler introduced abstraction to Britain in the second half of the 19th century. It examines the influence of avant garde artists like Mondrian who came to Britain to escape Nazi persecution during the Second World War. And it reveals that the landscape – often considered that most quintessentially British of art forms – was actually imported to a 17th century Britain still dominated by portraiture by northern european artists like Keirincx and Siberechts.
Of course there are plenty of examples of foreign artists coming to live and work in Britain during the 20th century – from Paula Rego to Anish Kapoor. Many of these were attracted by the openness to cultural influences which has come to define modern Britain and the vibrant community of artists living and working here.
But looking ahead to the future, many people in the art world now believe that the migration of artists into Britain is slowing down. And that as a result, the nature of this dialogue between British art and external influences could be changing.
Over the last decade, many of the best-known British artists – such as Tacita Dean, Douglas Gordon and Susan Philipsz – have left the UK to work in cities like Berlin. They’ve been followed by waves of younger artists attracted by cheap rents and studio space, and what’s becoming a burgeoning community of artists.
But of course this doesn’t mean that the interchange of ideas between British and foreign artists has slowed down. In an increasingly globalised art market, and with international communication now easier than ever, British art continues to be shaped by foreign influences.
The exhibition at Tate Britain ends with Static, a film of that icon of immigration the Statue of Liberty, by Steve McQueen. McQueen lives and works in Amsterdam, has galleries in London, Paris and New York, and exhibits around the world – perhaps challenging our very understanding of what it means to be a British artist.
Article written by Matthew Cain, Channel 4 Arts and Culture correspondent:
Article source: http://blogs.channel4.com/culture/art-immigration/2174
Follow @MatthewCainC4 on Twitter.
Last Updated (Friday, 03 February 2012 17:07)
ZENDEH reveal a sneak peak in the development of FLOCK
FLOCK is a new production inspired by Farid ud-Din Attar's The Conference of The Birds, a classic poem from the North East of Iran about quest and discovery; community and family; society and leadership.
FLOCK will be performed in Spring 2013.
The first of a series of workshops aimed at young people and their families, will begin in November 2011.
Listen to extracts of The Conference of the Birds, read by members of the ZENDEH team and workshop participants.
Extract One here:
Last Updated (Thursday, 01 December 2011 14:25)
Arts Council England's audience segmentation market research tool
Find out which cultural consumer group you belong to and how the accompanying publication can help arts organisations (links are below).
Segmentation is a market research method where a given market is broken down into distinct groups.
Click here for the quiz and publication to find out which category you fit into and to download the publication for organisations.
These resources can help us to get a better understanding of current and potential arts audiences across England.
It is based on updated, in-depth segmentation research that breaks down the English adult population in terms of their engagement with the arts.
In the context of how the arts fit into people’s everyday lives, it provides new insight into the patterns of arts consumption and attitudes towards the arts, how people spend their leisure time and what competes with the arts for people’s attention.
It also considers socio-demographic factors, media consumption and lifestyles. The research can be used as a tool to inform marketing and audience development plans for arts organisations, local authorities and other agencies working in the arts. It also contains insights that organisations might find useful for fundraising and in the development of an arts activity itself.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 29 November 2011 17:01)
SUBLIME FREQUENCIES RETURN TO NEWCASTLE!
Group Inerane & Corsano-Flowers Duo play The Cumberland Arms, Byker / Thursday 1st December / 7.30pm / £10
For more info and to contact TUSK Music visit the event's facebook page:
Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 November 2011 15:45)