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PRESS & MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
BLACK CHRONICLES II

THE BLACK VICTORIANS: ASTONISHING PORTRAITS UNSEEN FOR 120 YEARS

 

“From the African Choir posing like Vogue models to an Abyssinian prince adopted by an explorer, a new exhibition spotlights the first black people ever photographed in Britain.”

BLACK CHRONICLES II, RIVINGTON PLACE, REVIEW: ‘POWERFUL’

 

“There’s a lot of anonymity and mystery here, as well as tantalising insights into past lives; hints and beginnings of fascinating, and probably often shocking, stories that have, so far, gone untold.”

SEAN O’HAGAN’S TOP 10 PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITIONS OF 2014

 

“The central series were large, luminously beautiful prints of members of the African Choir, which toured the UK between 1891–93. A revelatory show.”

BLACK CHRONICLES II EXHIBITION REVIEW: EXCAVATING BLACK HISTORY

 

“By looking at these pictures, and working to understand why they appear unfamiliar, we begin to understand the nature of that “uneven history” a little more.”

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VISION & JUSTICE ONLINE: RENÉE MUSSAI IN CONVERSATION WITH VICTOR PETERSON II

 

“Oftentimes, our archive research arises out of the desire to disrupt established narratives of “arrival,” to unlock the coming of diaspora from a post-war moment.”

PHOTOGRAPHS OF BLACK BRITONS UNEARTHED AFTER 125 YEARS REVEAL ‘RICH AND DIVERSE BLACK PRESENCE’

 

“The objective is to gently disrupt this national narrative that is often dominated by the arrival of the Empire Windrush, and look into the archive, extract and release images in order to build a different image.”

BLACK CHRONICLES II @ AUTOGRAPH ABP REVIEWED BY MAGALI AVEZOU

 

“Through displaying these images, the curators point to an alternative history of black identity and raising questions about the place of the subjects in the colonial order and in British society.”

INTERVIEW WITH CURATOR RENÉE MUSSAI FOR ‘BLACK CHRONICLES II’ AT RIVINGTON PLACE

 

“Black Chronicles II proves to be as much an art exhibition as it is a demonstration of curatorial work at its finest. The work presented here is groundbreaking within the research fields of African diasporas and photography overall.”

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BEFORE THE WINDRUSH: THE BLACK FACES FAMOUS IN BRITISH LIFE LONG BEFORE WEST INDIANS ARRIVED IN 1948

 

“While it would be easy to trace Britain’s vibrant and rich Afro-Caribbean cultural history back to 1948, in fact people of colour from all walks of life were living and thriving on our island long before immigrants came over to help rebuild the nation after World War Two.”

ART REVIEW: BLACK CHRONICLES II (AUTOGRAPH ABP), RIVINGTON PLACE

 

“Rivington Place may not be one of London’s major art venues, but this exhibition is anything but offbeat or niche – it simply puts back what should already be there and forces us to confront the fact that it so often isn’t.”

REVIEW – BLACK CHRONICLES II AT RIVINGTON PLACE

 

“Any initial similarity to an identity photograph or mugshot quickly dissolves on closer inspection. The new prints render each person at almost life size, and the sculptural light and incredible detail of the glass plate have a mesmerising effect, drawing you in to each image as if facing a living person.”

BLACK CHRONICLES II: MULTIDIMENSIONAL NARRATIVES

 

“It presents a multidimensional narrative of the both tragic and complex stories of people like Prince Alamayou who, despite being favored by the Queen, has been written out of mainstream history. It also celebrates a mobile, cosmopolitan Diaspora participating in Victorian life with a dignity and agency.”

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STUNNING UNSEEN STUDIO PORTRAITS OF BLACK PEOPLE IN VICTORIAN BRITAIN

 

“An exhibition in east London is showing over 200 newly discovered portraits from the early days of photography…most of which have never been published or exhibited before.”

THE BLACK VICTORIANS: ASTONISHING PORTRAITS UNSEEN FOR 120 YEARS

 

“[The portraits] are arresting both for the style and assurance of the sitters – some of the women look like they could be modelling for Vogue – and for the way they challenge the received narrative of the history of black people in Britain.”

BLACK CHRONICLES II: REVIEW OF NEW BLACK HISTORY EXHIBITION

 

“At this point I should declare that I have a vested interest in these exhibitions because my great, great grandmother – Sally Bonetta Forbes often features in them. Beyond her royal connections, she was renowned for her musical talent, intelligence and beauty…”

9 THINGS YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS BLACK HISTORY MONTH

 

“Black Chronicles II is an exhibtion that explores the black life during the 19th and early 20th century through the medium of studio portrait photography.”

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STRIKING PHOTOS REVEAL HIDDEN HISTORY OF BLACK BRITONS IN THE VICTORIAN ERA

 

“People are now submitting images from their own personal collections in a bid to help construct a history that has been forgotten — a welcome by-product of the current showcase at Rivington Place.”

BLACK CHRONICLES II AT NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY / REVIEWED BY CAROLINE MOLLOY

 

“At almost life size, the details in the portraits are fascinating. The scratches and imperfections of time have left their mark on the negatives and have been left untouched as part of the photographs’ material biographies.”

AUTOGRAPH ABP – BLACK CHRONICLES II – ‘THE MISSING CHAPTER’

 

“…in this exhibition we are given a poignant reminder of the tapestry of black history that is now intrinsic to our nation’s identity – we see lion tamers, soldiers, adopted children, even priests, all so often erased as the arrow of time pushes forward.”

SEARCHING THE ARCHIVES: RECOVERING THE SOUTHERN PAST THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY

 

“I bring this show — and this project — to our attention in part because the photographs in this show are stunning, in part because the relevance of this work to the work of Southern photographers is painfully obvious…”

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THE MISSING CHAPTER COLLECTIVE: FEATURED WORK

 

“Our mentoring sessions involved us looking at what have historically been labelled as ‘spectacle’ and ‘spectator’, and at how that binary has always excluded people of colour… [we made] allegorical comparisons with certain forms of entertainment today, and thinking in particular about how this global context of ‘Black culture; is fetishised and sold as a commodity rather than an experience.”

BACK IN BLACK: KRYSIA KITCH REVIEWS BLACK CHRONICLES AT NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY, LONDON

 

“The lives are fascinating, giving an insight into an alternate view of colonisation and the persistent cultural exchange and influence that existed between peoples of the Empire.”

BACK IN THE FRAME: PHILIP HALCROW LEARNS ABOUT SALVATION ARMY PREACHER FEATURED IN BLACK CHRONICLES II

 

“A display of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery in London is looking at history from a different angle… among them are portraits of heavyweight boxer Peter Jackson, singers from the African Choir, which toured Britain from 1891 to 1893, and the Salvation Army preacher Musa Bhai.”

REDEFINING THE PHOTOGRAPHED BLACK FIGURE: REVIEW BY CHRISTINE EYENE

 

“As one walks up the gallery’s marble staircase to the exhibition space, the eye catcher a glimpse of a distinguished portrait from afar. Upon approaching the landing, one is met with Eleanor Xiniwe, flankeds by that of her husband Paul Xiniwe… If the photographed subjects do not represent familiar faces to a contemporary mainstream audience, they are nonetheless celebrities in their own right.”

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PORTRAITS OF BLACK BRITISH LIFE BEFORE WINDRUSH IN FRAME FOR NEW SHOW

 

“The portraits are one highlight among a wide-ranging showcase of some of the earliest photographs in existence of black and Asian actors and musicians, diplomats and dancers, labourers and politicians living in Britain, long before the famous arrival of the Caribbean immigrants on the Empire Windrush in 1948.”

PORTRAITS OF BLACK VICTORIAN WOMEN PROJECTED ONTO SIDE OF NEWINGTON GREEN CHURCH

 

“Portraits of pioneering black women who lived in Victorian Britain have for five days been projected onto the facade of the Unitarian Church in Newington Green… above graffiti artist Stewy’s portrait of radical feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.”

EXISTENCE AS RESISTANCE: REVIEW BY JENNY GATHRIGHT

 

“Black Chronicles II may also spark a more intimate and sacred encounter between black viewers and its images… For black people, existence and resistance are not separate. The ability of these nineteenth- and twentieth-century images to engage with black activism in our current political moment is not lost.”

BLACK CHRONICLES II BRINGS IMAGES FROM PHOTOGRAPHY’S FIRST CENTURY OUT OF THE DARK

 

“Despite staging, costumes and props in some of these images intended to meet the negatively biased expectations of most white audiences during the 19th century, many of the works here supersede that intent, instead revealing the complexities of “blackness” in Victorian culture as well as the undeniable human subjectivity of figures shown.”

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