• Saturday, May 25, 2024

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Photography ‘rooted in colonial notions of blackness as otherness’, claims Transport for London-backed art project

The free online lecture series will examine how photography, used as a tool of surveillance and documentation, influenced cultural meanings of blackness.

Representational image (iStock)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

Photography is “rooted in colonial notions of blackness as otherness”, according to an art project backed by Transport for London (TfL).

A lecture series to be run as part of TfL’s art scheme ‘Art on the Underground’ will explore how photography, used as a tool of surveillance and documentation, influenced cultural meanings of blackness.

Titled ‘Uncommon Observations: Photography, image-making, and the black diaspora’, the free lecture series will be conducted online between 6:30 pm and 7:45 pm (GMT) every Tuesday from January 10-31.

An overview of the programme, produced by the education group Black Blossoms said, “Black artists have used the camera to “unsettle” the colonial legacies of photography and to “create their conceptions of blackness, diasporic identity and culture.”

It will examine the relationship between photography, blackness, and diaspora, from the invention of photography in the 19th century to contemporary black photography and image-making.

“We will examine photographic practices, including portraiture, fine art, and the avant-garde, as well as archives containing social, cultural, and political documentation,” the producer of the programme said.

The four-part lecture series will be presented by the American-born black feminist researcher Nydia A Swaby.

The first lecture will look at the use of photography as a “technology of power, control, and subjugation.” It will examine how “colonial documentation of the black experience in Africa and the diaspora was framed through a white gaze, informed by white supremacy, anti-blackness, and structural racism.”

“Black diasporas in Britain, from the studio portraits of post-war African Caribbean migrants to the work of contemporary black photographers” will be the focus of the second lecture.

The third in the series will examine the use of portrait photography and landscape imagery in exploring the “contested spaces where blackness is embodied and performed”.

In the last part, Swaby will be joined by artist and filmmaker Rhea Storr for a conversation about the latter’s creative practice.

Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, said it (Art on the Underground) partnered with Black Blossoms to curate and deliver a series of free online courses as part of the public programme initiative to widen access to the arts.

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