Slade School of Fine Art UCL
Gower Street London WC1E 6BT
Amna Malik is Senior Lecturer in History and Theory of Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. She specialises in twentieth century and contemporary art and diaspora and has published a number of essays on African American, Black British, South Asian and Middle Eastern artists in Europe and the U.S. A recent online project ‘Transnational Slade: mapping the diaspora of an art school’ examines the presence of Asian and African artists at the Slade in the 1950s. Amna is currently working on a book which examines aesthetics and art practice across diasporas from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
A feature on issues raised by the exhibition 'The 1980s: Today's Beginnings' at the Vanabbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands, April-October 2016, specifically what is at stake in periodising the 1980s as the historic basis for contemporary art and cultural politics.
The Slade School of Fine Art, 1 an internationally leading art school based at University College London, has an intriguing but underused archive relating to students and staff, and their teaching, artworks, and experiences. The Slade Archive Project, jointly undertaken by the Slade and UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, 2 is an interdisciplinary, highly iterative, exploratory research collaboration, investigating how digital tools and techniques can open up the archive to the public and increase engagement with its contents. We demonstrate that collaborative work with a centre for digital humanities informs and enhances the use and understanding of digital methods available to art historians—a field that has not, to date, made much use of computational research methods—and encourages and supports new archival research methods. The Slade and Its Archive Since 1871 the Slade School of Fine Art has educated and trained generations of world-renowned artists. 3 The Slade has an extensive archive, including papers, photographs, class lists, student records, audio recordings, films, prospectuses, death masks, and other artefacts, providing rich evidence of the culture and activities of the college. However, this archive is difficult to access, and no attempt has been made to present it to a wider audience. Over time, the archive has been consolidated and dispersed across the university, with records now held by UCL Art Museum, 4 UCL Records Office, 5 UCL Library Special Collections, 6 and within the art school itself. Cataloguing is incomplete, and the documentation systems are not interoperable. The art school is both the context and the subject of the archive: any project derived from this archive will be, at least in part, art historical in nature. However, the archive is also of great interest to alumni, family historians, filmmakers, and authors who request access and want to contribute because of an interest in the personal histories beyond their conventional scholarly value. In this complex web of priorities, interdependencies, and responsibilities, digital technologies can provide the means to engage with archival content in unprecedented ways. Digital Humanities and Art History There has been curiously little research that applies digital methods within an art historical context (beyond simple digitisation of collections). Although scholars are starting to question the relationship of digital methods to art history (Rodriguez Ortega, 2013) and are exploring new tools (Rodriguez et al., 2012), these are not yet embedded into art historical methods. The John Paul Getty Trust has been urging art historians to utilize more digital technologies (Dobrzynski, 2014), but it has been suggested that the digital needs of art historians can be successfully met only through the work of many support organizations (Long and Schonfeld, 2014): we have undertaken to do this in the Slade Archive Project, which is inherently collaborative. The Slade Archive Project as Digital Humanities Collaboration The Slade Archive Project was launched in summer 2012 as a joint initiative driven by a shared curiosity of what could be done with the unique archive materials within the digital space. At the outset, our small team 7 working from different areas of specialization had yet to learn what the archive even held. The project was conceived as a flexible and collaborative frame under which various sub-projects could be developed, driven by the specific re
Monographic essay on the artist Said Adrus for an exhibition marking the centenary of World War One, and specifically a video 'Lost Pavillion' (2006) deploying found archival footage of Indian soldiers convalescing in Brighton Pavillion during the War. The text sets out a contextual analysis of the forgotten contribution of Indian soldiers to the British army in the battlefields of France, and the consequences for mourning this forgotten loss, specifically the burial grounds of Muslim soldiers in Britain photographed by Adrus and his own family's historic contributions to this war, as an Indian African in Kenya. The text draws out the entangled nature of Indian Africans and their absence from key exhibitions such as Okwui Enwezor's 'The Short Century'.
Examining the implications for art education of the postcolonial critique of art history first set out by Rasheed Araeen in 'The Other Story', specifically the work of the artist Anwar Shemza and his experience as a student at the Slade in the mid to late 1950s set out in a 1964 exhibition catalogue.
Republication of monographic essay for exhibition catalogue at Aikon Gallery London, 2010
Key writers discussed include: Roland Barthes Charles Baudelaire Christian Metz Henri Cartier-Bresson Geoffrey Batchen Fully cross-referenced and in an A-Z format, this is an accessible and engaging introductory guide.
This essay examines Rasheed Araeen's seminal sculptures of the late 1960s alongside that of the ‘new generation’ in Britain who followed in the wake of Anthony Caro. A particular feature of this essay is the formal analysis of Araeen’s work alongside other sculptors in Britain of his generation and a wider context of the misrepresentation and reception of minimalism through the 1968 travelling exhibition The Art of the Real.
A short text to accompany the exhibition by Ellen Gallagher at the South London Gallery 'Ellen Gallagher: An Experiment of Unusual Opportunity' March 18 - May 3 2009
20-21st April University of Edinburgh. ‘Rosalind Nashashibi’s Occultation of Film at the Crossroads Between Art and Everyday Life’ This paper takes its starting point from the contemporary Scottish artist Rosalind Nashashibi’s apparent retreat from the so-called ‘documentary turn’ that encountered an impasse with the reception of her film Hreash House (2004), and turns to examination of the way in which her later films such as Juniper Set (2004) and Eyeballing (2005) draw on the talismanic aspect of art, in which indexicality is replaced by a transubstantiation of the real towards the magical; a quality of the mechanical reproduction of the image that André Bazin identified contra Benjamin, as a sacred and cultic condition of the photographic image that retains the aura of the object. This turn towards the sacred, and in particular Nashashibi’s apparent revival of a Jungian model of ‘archetypes’ is proposed as an alternative to the critical oppositionality championed by so many of the earlier filmic avant-gardes. I take up Jean Fisher’s recent identification of a model of ‘otherness’ that is not the excluded marginal or oppositional ‘other’ but instead ‘the occulted presence at the heart of any discourse’ and suggest that perhaps the ‘excluded other’ that faces us now is the critical potential of the magical and the talismanic in Western art. In this respect, Nashashibi’s recent interest in Jungian archtetypes offers considerable potential for addressing the impasse in contemporary art away from the models of avant-garde resistance as negation. The ‘primitivism’ of the camera lens as an optical unconscious and the central role of the face in Nashashibi’s compelling movement between the mythic and the everyday in Eyeballing will be the focus of this paper."
3rd April Victoria and Albert Museum, London, organised by Dot Rowe, Marsha Meskimmon and Fran Lloyd
Ellen Gallagher's installation at the Freud Museum draws on marine biology to develop her ongoing series of cut-paper images entitled 'Watery Ecstatic'. The aim of this article is to assess her artistic practice and particularly the cut-paper images in which the play on fish and aro-hair in cuts made into the surface of white paper, as a play on the idea of the monochrome as a form of ' blankness'. These images are intereprted as a form of counter-memory that play on the blankness or the void in the monochrome as a metaphorical erasure of the history of slavery and its connections with Euro-American modernism. The articles asks how the biology of 'race' and Freud's interest in biology come together in this series of very disparate set of images. Its value lies in the interrogation of memory in psychoanalytic views of post-war North American art through Ellen Gallagher's practice.