Drawing maps: history and geography in contemporary black British art
For contemporary black British artists, history is a recurring and significant concept in their lives. This is the imperial and colonial history of the enslavement, exploitation, and oppression of non-white populations. Geography is conceptually twinned with history. European colonial enterprises necessitated the movement of people as well as goods across oceans and between continents. Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas were conquered, carved up, and mapped out by European powers. This geography is a legacy for those people whose ancestors and relatives were enslaved and/or displaced. It is equally important to those people directly affected by economic and political instability in their homelands, immigration, and/or racism. Artists Yinka Shonibare, Godfried Donkor, and Lubaina Himid appropriate centuries-old images and cultural as well as racial stereotypes to question accepted historical narratives with regards to black populations. Zarina Bhimji, Sonia Boyce, and Sokari Douglas Camp are more concerned with how history impinges upon them personally.