In honour of Black History Month, we thought we would share some of our artists’ books on the themes of race, and colonialism and imperialism.
As well as Kara Walker’s book ‘Freedom: A Fable — a curious interpretation of the wit of a negress in troubled times, with illustrations’, which has its own post on the GSA Library Treasures blog, we have artist’s books by Sanjay Theodore, Conor Kelly and Emmett Walsh, and Jimmie Durham which navigate themes of race, national narratives, and colonialism.
Conor Kelly and Emmett Walsh’s book, An Adventurer’s Guide to the Subjugation of the Island of Sapouti (in four parts), directly comments on themes of imperialism and colonialism. This artists’ book includes a large map of the fictional island of Sapouti, as well as faux Old English narrative and illustrations of adventurers. It is encased in a faux leather pocket which has been stitched on two sides.
Sanjay Theodore’s book, Bye Bye Blackbird, published in 2002, is a work that deals with racial stereotypes and reappropriation. It is comprised of transparent envelopes which contain postcards written in German, and in the last envelope, a metal gollywog badge.
Lastly, Jimmie Durham’s book My book, the East London coelacanth, sometimes called, troubled waters: the story of British sea-power, begins with a chapter titled is a book that questions what English-ness is and how it relates to the Empire and colonialism.In the text, Durham writes “if I could catch an East London Coelacanth in East London, England, I might somehow be helping resolve some of the residual problems of Anglish Imperialism.”
All of these artist’s books are available to view by appointment through the request a viewing form found here.
The full listing of events for Black History Month, which includes lectures, performances, films and a quiz night can be found on the CRER website.