TALKBACK: African, Caribbean & South Asian Photography (1987)

Perhaps, if one were feeling generous, one would be inclined to attach a limited degree of contributory significance to the document produced by Similola Coker and Devdan Sen. It was compiled for the Arts Council and the Minorities Arts Advisory Service and if nothing else, points to the vague existence of a number of non-European people, engaged in some sort of photographic practice. More than this however, the report does nothing, says nothing, contains nothing. In view of the fact that the report was commissioned by, and will exclusively be read by by people who were previously aware of the existence of Black and Asian photographers, this report becomes a remarkable waste of time and money. This document is a degenerate, shambolic, piece of writing, structurally appalling, politically unprogressive and saturated with repetitions.

…The whole document is far too vague. In its recommendations it fails to focus itself and deal with specifics. The unforgiveable result result of this is that those arts centres and arts administrators guilty of long-term or specific racism against Black photographers are let off the hook. More importantly, the report offers no specific recommendations as to how offending arts centres and administrators can mend their ways. 

The full version of the above text by Eddie Chambers was published in Creative Camera, Oct/Nov 5/1987: 38-39, as TALKBACK. It was a response to a report, African, Caribbean & South Asian Photography by Similola Coker and Devdan Sen – A discussion paper for the development of photography in Britain.