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Title: Africana unmasked : fugitive signs of Africa in Tate's British Collection
Author: Donkor, Kimathi
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 2202
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2015
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Through painting, drawing, photography and digital design, I have investigated the relationship between, on the one hand, my fine art practice—with its interest in postcolonial African and diaspora identities (or, ‘Africana’)—and on the other hand, works at The Tate Gallery—with its remit to hold the National Collection of British Art. By interrogating iconological ‘conditions of existence’ for works by Fehr, Sargent and Brock, I created new artworks that indicated hidden (or, ‘fugitive’) African connections with the intention of disrupting complacent assumptions and reimagining unacknowledged (or, ‘masked’) themes. I considered concepts of Africa: described by Mudimbe as ‘discursive formations’ (after Foucault) and embodying postcolonial, transracial identities; in addition, I addressed the problematics of Tate’s British Art collection as a post-imperial brand of ‘cultural capital’. Unmasking fugitive Africana was a practical methodology designed to produce artworks. So,while aware of many theoretical interlocutors, I pursued a convoluted, sometimes intuitive path through the creative process by making drawings, digital designs, photographs and paintings. Nonetheless, Stuart Hall’s framework of an ‘oppositional code’ was key and so I suggest that, as practiced by artists, ‘unmasking Africana’ might be an inherently counter-hegemonic,critical project. My investigation embodied technical and conceptual problematics of critical enquiry as a mode of studio practice. I explored unmasking methodologies through reading, observation,reflection and painterly, synthesised appropriations—also witnessing an evolution in my imagery, from iconographically layered compositions to works in which identities and motifs seemed to fuse. As well as the studio investigation and writing, my project had a pedagogic element. In a series of seminars, I taught MA students at C.C.W. Graduate School the preliminary findings of my research. My interviews with students produced evaluations about their learning, which I later disseminated as part of UAL’s programme to reduce disparities between white and B.A.M.E. British undergraduate students.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Art ; Fine Art