Inside the invisible

BookInside the invisible

Inside the invisible

Memorialising Slavery and Freedom in the Life and Works of Lubaina Himid

Liverpool Studies in International Slavery, 14


November 19th, 2019

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Inside the Invisible provides the first examination of the work of Turner Prize-winning Black British artist and curator Professor Lubaina Himid CBE. This comprehensive volume breaks new ground by theorizing her development of an alternative visual and textual language within which to do justice to the hidden histories and untold stories of Black women, children, and men bought and sold into transatlantic slavery. For Himid, the act of forgetting within official sites of memory is indivisible from the art of remembering within an African diasporic art historical tradition. She interrogates the widespread distortion and even wholesale erasure of Black bodies and souls subjected to dehumanizing stereotypes and grotesque caricatures within western imaginaries and dominant iconographic traditions over the centuries. Creating bodies of work in which she comes to grips with the physical and psychological realities of iconic and anonymous African diasporic individuals as living breathing human beings rather than as objectified types, she bears witness not only to tragedy but to triumph. A self-appointed researcher, historian, and storyteller as well as an artist, she succeeds in seeing “inside the invisible” regarding untold narratives of Black agency and artistry by mining national archives, listening to oral stories, acknowledging art-making traditions, and revisiting autobiographical testimonies.


'An extremely significant contribution to the art historical research focused on contemporary Black British visual artists.'
Professor Earnestine Jenkins, University of Memphis

Author Information

Celeste-Marie Bernier is Professor of United States and Atlantic Studies, University of Edinburgh. Alan Rice is Professor in English and American Studies and Co-Director of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research, University of Central Lancashire. Lubaina Himid CBE is Professor of Contemporary Art and Co-Director of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research, University of Central Lancashire and 2017 Turner Prize winner. Hannah Durkin is Lecturer in Literature and Film, School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures7
Introduction: Making Black Histories, Stories and Memories Visible23
Artist Statement I: Gathering and Reusing71
Part 1: Visualising the Politics of Representation77
1: ‘Humour, fury, celebration and optimism’: A Politics of Protest and Cut-Out Men (1981–85)79
2: ‘Rituals of reclaiming lost artefacts, refusing oppression and looking for ancestors’ in Heroes a93
3: ‘They who document/paint the History hold the Power’: Retelling, Reimagining and Recreating New N111
Artist Statement II: Telling Invisible Stories135
Part 2: Resistance, Reclamation and Revolutionary History Painting 143
4: No More Silent Victims: Agency, Authority and Artistry in the Black Woman’s Story in Revenge (199145
5: ‘Lost hope, abandoned lives, decimated civilisations’: Sites of Cultural Struggle in Beach House167
6: ‘Safety and danger and how to tell the difference’: Suffering, Struggle and Survival in Plan B (1177
Artist Statement III: Return to the Operatic189
Part 3: Past, Present and Future Artistry, Activism and Agency193
7: Imaging and Imagining ‘Vanished lives of the black diaspora’ in Venetian Maps (1997)195
8: Reimaging and Reimagining an Absent-Presence in (2003)205
9: ‘The slave servant’: Guerrilla Memorialisation and Multi-accented Performances in Naming the Mone223
10: Intervention, Mapping and Excavation: White Caricatures versus Black Dehumanisation in Swallow H239
Artist Statement IV Painting over the British to Reveal the British259
Part 4: Imagining 'the ghosts and the traces'269
11: Tracing ‘the living/the dead/the ancestors’ in London and Paris Guidebooks (2009)271
12: Mapping Space, Debating Place: Jelly Mould Pavilions (2010) and Official Sites and Sights of Sla287
13: ‘The “ghost” of it all’: Tragedy, Trauma and a ‘people there and not there’ in Le Rodeur (2016)301
Artist Statement V: Working on Paper319
‘It’s all about action’: An Interview with Lubaina Himid323
Conclusion: ‘Lives depend on accurate histories’335