Brits in the Bronx 

…In recent years New York galleries have been playing host to exhibitions of work by artists representing the new generation of so-called young British artists (yBas). It may be tempting to view ‘Transforming the Crown’ as an extension of this or a widening of the parameters that Americans have been encouraged to see as defining ‘British’ art. But within the exhibition brochure, Mora J Beauchamp, the show’s curator, makes no reference whatsoever to the wider artistic context in which black artists in Britain operate. Consequently, few gallery visitors are in a position to establish a proximity between these British artists and their white counterparts. 

…We do not know if the major art spaces of lower Manhattan responded negatively to approaches to take ‘Transforming the Crown’; neither do we know if the Studio Museum and Bronx Museum were deliberately and positively chosen. But when it comes to exhibiting the work of black artists, these are vitally important questions that ought to be acknowledged as such…

…While there were a number of other glaring omissions, my purpose in highlighting them is to do more than flag up curatorial blunders. After all, gallery-going audiences might not even be aware of some of these gaps. However, I believe that New York audiences have a right to have it explained to them in the clearest language why this 1966-96 period was settled on, why certain artists have been included and why certain artists have been excluded. The absence of such critical information in the exhibition brochure renders the entire exhibition suspect and evasive.

As for the work itself, what an odd assortment it is. There are very few key works in the exhibition, though Sonia Boyce’s Some English Rose is present. So too is one of Faisal Abdu’Allah’s magnificent and fascinating re-renderings of The Last Supper

…Regrettably, though several months have elapsed since the shows opened, the exhibition catalogue is still not yet published. (Though some texts from the catalogue are in circulation)…

The above extracts are from an exhibition review by Eddie Chambers of Transforming the Crown at venues in New York. The review appeared in  Art Monthly, London, Number 214, March 1998: 7-10 [RTTJ]