Thin Black Line(s) 2011/2012 Tate Britain re-assessed a lost curatorial moment and illustrated the connectivity and influence of black women artists working in London in the 1980s on contemporary art practice at the turn of the century. Artworks and archive materials were included by Sonia Boyce, Ingrid Pollard, Maud Sulter, Brenda Agard, Claudette Johnson, Veronica Ryan and Lubaina Himid. This exhibition achieved visitor numbers in excess of one million, acting as both an examination and display.
Significantly it enabled the acquisition of artists work into the Tate collection; allowing questions about how the participation of ethnically diverse artists and audiences in the strategic future of the museum could be developed. Himid used a number of counter curatorial devices within the space including a drawn “map” illustrating the range of cross cultural activity themed around publishing, teaching and curating during the eighties; a show-reel by Susan Walsh highlighting the range and immensity of women’s output and the production of a free full colour catalogue available in hard-copy and on-line.
Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier in The burial and un-burial of women (Hampton University Press) says Leaving her audience under no illusions that the paintings, installations, photographs, sculpture and drawings on view are in any way representative of the total work produced by Black female artists in Britain, Himid liberates her viewers to take account of the artistic and political rationale for this group display.