teen: Culture Wars: Race and Queer Art
The last decade in the west has seen a growing interest in identity within cultural politics. The avant garde on the one hand and class issues on the other have been called into question in relation to race and sexual politics. Simultaneously there has been a ‘coming out of the closet’ for lesbian and gay artists dealing with issues of their own identity. London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts has hosted at least two conferences around the notion of a ‘gay sensibility in the arts’ and Robert Mapplethorpe’s work has been widely seen in America. In Britain we live with homophobic laws and a mindless censorship of so-called ‘pornography’. The Thatcher era coincided with the birth of the Black Arts Movement during which the hegemony of white art, its history and institutions have been challenged. Having been the subject of mainstream practice; defined, codified and catalogued, queer artists and artists of colour have said finally enough is enough, and have spear-headed demands for autonomous control of their own cultural product.