Become a member

Get the best offers and updates relating to Liberty Case News.

― Advertisement ―

BerandaNewsKeith Piper Video Installed at Tate Britain as Counterpart to Racist Restaurant Mural

Keith Piper Video Installed at Tate Britain as Counterpart to Racist Restaurant Mural

Nearly four years ago, Tate Britain in London closed its restaurant amid controversy. For the first time, public scrutiny had erupted over on a 100-year-old mural in the eatery containing racist imagery. The painting, by Rex Whistler and titled The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats (1926–27), contains graphic vignettes depicting an enslaved child. In response, Tate placed an interpretive text that attempted to place Whistler’s design in a historical context, but this was no permanent fix. aslidomino

This week, museum leadership since revealed its solution to the controversy: A commissioned artwork by Keith Piper that uses a research-based approach to examine the context and legacies of the mural.

The piece, a two-channel video installation titled Viva Voce, pits a fictitious Whistler against an academic, called Professor Shepherd and played by Ellen O’Grady. The two delve into Whistler’s biography and body of work, as O’Grady interrogates the explicit derogative themes that unite both. aslidomino

In February 2022, Tate announced that Piper would create a “site-specific installation” to the mural. The new work would be “exhibited alongside and in dialogue with the mural, reframing the way the space is experienced,” Tate said in a statement, adding that it would also be paired with “new interpretative material, which will critically engage with the mural’s history and content, including its racist imagery”. (The restaurant is part of a Grade I-listed structure, meaning that under British law, it cannot be demolished or altered without special permission.)

Piper is of African-Caribbean heritage. In his decades-long practice spanning photography, painting, and video, he explores the impact of Britain’s social and political values.

He was a founding member of the pioneering BLK Art Group, a collective of Black British art students that formed in England’s West Midlands in 1979. As children of Caribbean migrants, they encouraged both white and Black artists to deepen their social consciousness. Piper now works an educator in the art department of London’s Middlesex University. aslidomino