Marginalisation and African Art

Marginalisation of individuals is something that is close to my heart for lots of reasons. I particularly love studying marginalisation in art and mostly it’s nice to think that we’ve started to conquer lots of problems that have been around in the past.

However we’re still not there on so many levels. I mean, there’s a massive gulf in the numbers of women and male artists in top galleries, both exhibiting and working in academic positions. But today, I don’t want to talk about womens rights, or be a shouty feminist.

Today I want to talk about the Tate Modern and the celebration of Africa that they’re having there at the moment. African art has always been marginalised. It came to the forefront when the Cubists and some other Modern Artists found it and thought it was cute, they used it as inspiration in a slightly patronising way.

The Western world also has a long history of treating African Art as craft and not deeming it worthy of the social status of Art. However huge inroads are being made in this area, not least of which by the British Museum in the beautiful and contempory way that they’re exhibiting the Benin Bronzes in the Africa galleries. This is massively due to the new feminist approaches to art history that were established in the 1970’s and it’s the route that I’m choosing to pursue with my studies.

But just watch this video. This guy is such an inspiration. He identified a problem – there were no spaces available to show contemporary African Art in the west. People just weren’t interested if it wasn’t cute craft. So he went out there and he found a space – at the Tate Modern of all places. And back at home he realised there was no Art education and you could not get hold of study materials, so he has established his own Art library. Just wow.

More people like this in the world please, who have a dream and make it happen.