A Letter Sent, Waiting to be Received: Queer Correspondence, Feminism and Black British Art

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This article examines what the published letter does as a form that is both intimate and public, and how it is particularly resonant when dealing with the silences and absences around queer and feminist artist of colour histories. Connections are made between three letters published in feminist and queer journals and books, written for readers who may include the writers? loved ones, friends, contemporaries, and future readers. These three letters are contained within the following publications: Surviving Art School (2016) by the group Collective Creativity, a QTIPOC artist group who made the publication as part of a wider project examining the history of Black British Art (members are: Evan Ifekoya, Raisa Kabur, Rudy Lowe and Raju Rage); a special issue of FAN (Feminist Arts News) edited by Lubaina Himid and Maud Sulter in 1988, the precursor to the more well-known collection Passion, edited by Sulter in 1990; ending with Himid?s recent reflections on her curation in the 1980s through a series of ?Letters to Susan? published in the 2011 catalogue for the exhibition Thin Black Line(s) at Tate Britain. Through close examination of these examples, this article explores the particularities of the letter form, asking if it allow feminist and queer artists of colour to present their experiences in a manner that encourages all their readers to take part in the conversation, whilst prioritising calls for other people of colour to respond. The article proposes that the published letter form keeps feminist histories alive and creates a counterpublic that speaks to and for a community that is imagined as both geographically and temporally diffuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-318
Number of pages22
JournalWomen: A Cultural Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019


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