The Art of Change

What can we do with racist art?

A person pointing forwards while speaking, another person is looking where they are pointing

Keith Piper Viva Voce 2024. © Keith Piper

Artworks are living objects which emerge from a particular perspective at a particular moment, yet continue to exist in a changing world. Some historic artworks, and even images from popular culture, reflect racist attitudes.

What do we do with imagery like this? Can we seal away the past or should we interrogate it? Can we contextualise it, or does this perpetuate harm? Can actively criticising historic image-making help us tackle racism and discrimination today?

In this podcast, artist, academic and founder of the groundbreaking BLK Art Group, Keith Piper discusses these questions with artist Larry Achiampong, art historian Nikki Frater PhD, playwright Jacqueline Malcolm and activist Jen Reid.

The Art of Change coincides with Piper’s new film installation, Viva Voce, 2024, which examines the racist imagery of a mural painted at Tate Britain by Rex Whistler in 1927. Viva Voce invites us to carefully examine historical images, the motives of those who made them and the context in which they were produced.

The episode was produced by Adam Simons. The music was by Kieran Shuddall.

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