The Work Between Us – Paper – Paul Goodwin



Wednesday 20 January 2016

Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, UK

#WorkBetweenUs @AHRC_BAM


Professor Paul Goodwin

Eleven Years: Notes Towards A Pre-History of The Other Story

The Other Story exhibition, curated by Rasheed Araeen, opened at London’s Hayward Gallery in November 1989 and ran until February 1990. One of the most significant and contentious exhibitions of the past thirty years, the far reaching consequences of its radical re-reading of the history of modernism in Britain are still being debated (and perhaps also still denied) today. Relatively little work, however, has been undertaken on the pre-history of this seminal enterprise. In a letter to the Arts Council in October 1978 Rasheed Araeen suggested the ‘possibility of organising a survey exhibition of the works of black artists in Britain’. Undeterred by initial delays and rebuffs to his proposal – a veritable ‘theater of refusal’ – Araeen doggedly pursued his mission of researching, curating and organising his ground breaking exhibition over a period of eleven years until its opening at the Hayward just over a decade later. This paper will suggest ways of thinking through this complex pre-history of The Other Story. This includes commentary on the voluminous correspondence between Araeen and the Arts Council; the institutional context of the relationship between discussions around modernism, exhibitions and black artists in Britain during this decade; Araeen’s approach to research and exhibition making during this period and a consideration of the notion of a ‘pre-history’ in relation to the emerging historiography of exhibitions relating to black artists’ practices,

As part of the Black Artists & Modernism project, there are unfolding discussions amongst the research team and with scholars, artists, curators and other engaged publics.


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