List

Reading List: Power, Visibility and Truth in Art

Thick/er Black Lines

These texts chosen by Thick/er Black Lines, explore these themes in art, the gallery space and society

photograph showing two chairs in a gallery space in front of three bookcases

© Dan Weill Photography

two women browse the 'power' and 'truth' bookshelves in the gallery

© Dan Weill Photography

Do you see yourself reflected in art history and the stories the gallery tells? Have you ever thought about the stories that might be missing? These texts chosen by Thick/er Black Lines, question, challenge and redress narratives that have ignored and excluded many. Use this list to start conversations with friends, collegues or your book club.

Collection of four books

© Tate Photography, David Lambert

Visibility

David Austin (ed.)
Moving Against the System: The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness

David A. Bailey, Ian Baucom and Sonia Boyce
Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain

Guerrilla Girls
The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art

Reina Gossett, Eric A Stanley, Johanna Burton
Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility

Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie, and Suzanne Scafe
The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain

Kelli Jones
EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art

Michele Wallace
Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory

Truth

Kehinde Andrews
Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century

John Berger
Ways of Seeing

Christophe Cherix, Cornelia Butler, and David Platzker (eds.)
Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions: 1965–2016

Reni Eddo-Lodge
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Power

Simone Browne
Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness

Denise Ferreira da Silva
Toward a Global Idea of Race

Stefano Harney and Fred Moten
The Undercommons

Joy James
Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture

Rasheed Araeen
The Success and Failure of the Black Arts Movement

[Rasheed Araeen, ‘The Success and Failure of the Black Arts Movement’, 2005. This essay originally appeared in Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain, Duke University Press, 2005.]

Chin-Tao Wu
Biennials Without Borders?

[Chin-Tao Wu, ‘Biennials Without Borders?’, 2009. This essay originally appeared in Tate Papers Issue 12 2009.]

Chin-Tao Wu
Worlds Apart: Problems of Interpreting Globalised Art

[Chin-Tao Wu, ‘Worlds Apart: Problems of Interpreting Globalised Art’, 2007. This essay originally appeared in Third Text Volume 21, 2007 – Issue 6.]

Scott Indrisek
The Precarious, Glamorous Lives of Independent Curators

[Scott Indrisek, ‘The Precarious, Glamorous Lives of Independent Curators’, 2018. This article was originally published in February 2018.]

Doreen St. Félix
The Mystery of Amy Sherald’s Portrait of Michelle Obama

[Doreen St. Félix, ‘The Mystery of Amy Sherald’s Portrait of Michelle Obama’, 2018. This essay originally appeared in the New Yorker, February 2018.]

Nasrin Himada
For Many Returns
[Nasrin Himada, ‘For Many Returns’, 2018. This article originally appeared in Contemporary, January 2018.]

Sylvia Wynter
‘Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument’

[Sylvia Wynter, ‘Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument’, 2003. This essay was first published in the New Centennial Review, Volume 3, Number 3, Fall 2003, pp. 257–337]

Andrea Fraser
‘L'1%, c'est moi.’

[Andrea Fraser, ‘L'1%, c'est moi.’, 2011. This article was first published in: Texte zur Kunst 83, September, pp. 114–127]

Janelle Zara
‘Why Have There Been No Great Black Art Dealers?

[Janelle Zara, ‘Why Have There Been No Great Black Art Dealers?’, 2018. This article originally appeared in the New York Times Style Magazine, June 2018.]

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah
‘Henry Taylor’s Wild Heart Can’t Be Broken’

[Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, ‘Henry Taylor’s Wild Heart Can’t Be Broken’, 2018. A version of this article appears in the June 25, 2018 issue of New York Magazine.]

Rianna Jade Parker
‘Resistance, Rebellion, and Culture: Exhibitions Around London Renew Questions About a So-Called Black Aesthetic’

[Rianna Jade Parker, ‘Resistance, Rebellion, and Culture: Exhibitions Around London Renew Questions About a So-Called Black Aesthetic’, 2018. This article originally appeared in Spring 2018 issue of ARTnews on page 106 under the title 'Around London.']

Taylor Renee Aldridge
‘Black Bodies, White Cubes: The Problem with Contemporary Art’s Appropriation of Race’

[Taylor Renee Aldridge, ‘Black Bodies, White Cubes: The Problem With Contemporary Art’s Appropriation of Race’, 2016. This article originally appeared in ARTnews, November 2016]

Jessica Lynne
‘In conversation with Naima Green’

[Jessica Lynne, ‘In conversation with Naima Green’, 2016. This article originally appeared in ARTS.BLACK, March 2016.]

Derica Shields
‘Face Me, I Face You’

[Derica Shields, ‘Face Me, I Face You’, 2014. This article originally appeared in the New Inquiry, Queens Edition, June 2014]

Kareem Reid
'On Cecile Emeke and the conditions of Black Cultural Production'

[Kareem Reid, ‘On Cecile Emeke and the conditions of Black Cultural Production’, 2018. This article originally appeared in ARTS.BLACK, April 2018]

Hannah Black
‘Superpower. Hannah Black on Black Panther

[Hannah Black, ‘Superpower’, 2018. This article originally appeared in Artforum Vol. 56 No. 9, May 2018.]

Catherine Chapman
‘BWA for BLM Offers Space for Dialogue Between Black Female Artists in NY, LA, Houston, and London’

[Catherine Chapman, ‘BWA for BLM Offers Space for Dialogue Between Black Female Artists in NY, LA, Houston, and London’, 2017. This article originally appeared in The Creators Project (VICE), April 2017.]

Aria Dean
‘Film: Worry the Image’

[Aria Dean, ‘Film: Worry the Image’, 2017. This article originally appeared in Art in America, May 2017]

Aria Dean
‘Poor Meme, Rich Meme’

[Aria Dean, ‘Poor Meme, Rich Meme’, 2016. This article originally appeared in Real Life Mag, July 2016]

The White Pube
‘How to get an Exhibition’

[Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad, ‘How To Get An Exhibition’, 2018. This essay originally appeared on The White Pube, February 2018]

Linda Nochlin
‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’

[Linda Nochlin, ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’, 1971. A version of this story originally appeared in thein the January 1971 issue of ARTnews.]

Kimberly Drew
‘Why we need to Radically Rethink the Power Structures of the Art World’

[Kimberly Drew, ‘why we need to radically rethink the power structures of the art world’, 2018. This article originally appeared in The Radical Issue, no. 350, spring 2018]

Kei Miller
‘The White Women and the Language of Bees’

[Kei Miller, ‘The White Women and the Language of Bees’, 2018. This essay originally appeared in PREE, Issue One: Crossroads, May 2018]

Megan O’Grady
‘How Carrie Mae Weems Rewrote the Rules of Image-Making’

[Megan O’Grady, ‘How Carrie Mae Weems Rewrote the Rules of Image-Making’ 2018. This essay originally appeared in the New York Times Style Magazine, October 2018]

Robin Pogrebin and Hilarie M. Sheets
‘An Artist Ascendant: Simone Leigh Moves Into the Mainstream’

[Robin Pogrebin and Hilarie M. Sheets, ‘An Artist Ascendant: Simone Leigh Moves Into the Mainstream’. This essay originally appeared in the New York Times, August 2018]

Niama Safia Sandy and OkayAfrica
‘Taking Back Our History: Understanding African Art Repatriation’

[Niama Safia Sandy and OkayAfrica, ‘Taking Back Our History: Understanding African Art Repatriation’, 2018. This essay originally appeared in OkayAfrica, April 2018.]

Thick/er Black Lines is an interdisciplinary research-led artist collective. The group applies contemporary art theory, cultural studies and social practices to rewrite histories. Thick/er Black Lines was initiated by Rianna Jade Parker, Aurella Yussuf, Hudda Khaireh and Kariima Ali.

The intention of this reading list is to make clear the links between politics, aesthetics and history.

Art is not and cannot ever be apolitical. Museums and galleries are not neutral spaces. They were designed to be exclusionary and are sustained by an intimate relationship with money and power.

Our cultural institutions are built on Western (read: almost exclusively white cis-hetero male) art practices. These inform an agenda rooted in white supremacy, disguised as culture and taste.

We need to reconstruct and decentralise our cultural spaces to include those who have been overlooked or wilfully excluded.

We hope it offers sources for intervention and opportunities to share knowledges.

Thick/er Black Lines

Top Picks

Thick/er Black Lines have chosen their top picks from their recommended reading list. These four texts explore ground-breaking exhibitions, feminist theory and the economics of contemporary art.

five books from the bookshelves

© Tate Photography, David Lambert

bell hooks, Art On My Mind: Visual Politics

Leading feminist theorist, bell hooks turns her critical lens to contemporary art, visual cultures and representation. Through a collection of essays, hooks offers her perspective on how to produce, exhibit, and critique art.
Thick/er Black Lines

Sadly, conservative white artists and critics who control the cultural production of writing about art seem to have the greatest difficulty accepting that one can be critically aware of visual politics – the way race, gender and class shape art practices (who makes art, how it sells, who values it, who writes about it) –without abandoning a fierce commitment to aesthetics.

bell hooks, 'Art On My Mind: Visual Politics'

Susan Cahan, Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power

For those who were able to experience Tate Modern’s blockbuster Soul of a Nation: Art in the age of Black Power the artists and institutions mentioned in this text will be familiar. The book is the result of ten years of investigative work on New York City’s major museums and their early attempts to grapple with the civil rights movement and African American art.
Thick/er Black Lines

Julian Stallabrass, Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art

You cannot think about art without considering the financial entanglements that are woven into its production and consumption. This is a short but necessary read to help us begin to understand some of the machinations of money, power and influence in contemporary art today.
Thick/er Black Lines

Guerrilla Girls, The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art

This is an essential guide for those who want to begin think more critically about what we are taught about art history, whose history that is, and how others are excluded from it. The Guerrilla Girls’ radical, collective practice is not only fun and visually dynamic, but most crucially, informative with statistics to back it up.
Thick/er Black Lines

Stefano Harney & Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study

... it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of these conditions one can only sneak in ... to the university and steal what one can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of – this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.

Stefano Harney & Fred Moten, 'The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study'

Rasheed Araeen, The Success and Failure of the Black Arts Movement

Has anything altered, except that some black artists have now won the Turner Prize?

Rasheed Araeen, 'The Success & Failure of the Black Arts Movement'

collection of four books

© Tate Photography, David Lambert

At a time when coverage of world affairs often leaves us with more questions than answers, the free sharing of knowledge is vital. Thick/er Black Lines aim to provide access to texts that address these global concerns and challenge dominant narratives. Book distribution is expensive and it can be difficult to share radical texts effectively, even for those committed to the conversation. Thick/er Black Lines have assembled collections of texts for Tate Exchange and the 2018 Turner Prize.

A selection of titles from their reading lists are available to read in (un)common space at Tate Britain. By sharing these texts they invite users to become part of these important dialogues.

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