Reading List – Claudette Johnson: I Came to Dance

Race, portraiture, feminism, sexuality and the female body are all explored in this reading list inspired by Claudette Johnson’s exhibition I Came to Dance, which is at Modern Art Oxford until 8 September 2019.

You can browse and purchase many of these titles in the Modern Art Oxford Shop.

Also available to buy this autumn will be an exciting new catalogue published to accompany Claudette Johnson’s exhibition, which will include a newly commissioned essay by writer and curator, Gilane Tawadros.

Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits (1998)
Frances Borzello
Featuring Claudette Johnson, this diverse exploration of female artists and self-portraits takes us on a journey from the earliest 12th century illuminated manuscript portraits all the way to contemporary women artists confronting issues of feminism, race and identity.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (2017)
Reni Eddo-Lodge
Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog post in 2014 entitled, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, which expressed frustration that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. It went viral, encouraging the award-winning journalist to write this highly popular book of the same name.

Lubaina Himid: Workshop Manual (2019)
Lubaina Himid, Helen Legg, Courtney J. Martin, Emma Ridgway, Zoé Whitley
Workshop Manual is the first monograph on the Turner Prize winning artist, Lubaina Himid, who had a major exhibition at Modern Art Oxford in 2017. The book includes Himid’s own writings from the 1990s to the present day, documenting her involvement in the influential Blk Art Group alongside artists including Claudette Johnson, Keith Piper and Marlene Smith.

Women & Power: A Manifesto (2017)Mary Beard
This hugely popular historical feminist study by British classicist Mary Beard shows how history has treated women in power, from the classical world to the #metoo movement.

Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain (1985)
Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie, and Suzanne Scafe
Powerful and corrective, The Heart of the Race documents of the day-to-day realities of Black women in Britain, their experiences of work, health care and education, and the personal and political barriers they have faced to preserve a sense of identity and community. It was first published in 1985 and won the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize.

Black Britain: A Photographic History (2007)
Paul GilroyBlack Britain explores the social and cultural history and meaning of what he calls ‘British blackness’ or ‘black Britishness.’ Covering the world wars, black arts and culture, and the Windrush generation, this book visually documents Britain’s difficult and unfinished process of becoming postcolonial.

Black Artists in British Art: A History from 1950 to the Present (2014)
Eddie Chambers
Part of the influential Blk Art Group of the 1980’s along with Claudette Johnson, in his book, artist, historian and curator Eddie Chambers documents the major contributions of Black artists to British Art.

Sexuality (2015)
Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art, edited by Amelia Jones
The fascinating link between sexual desire and the creation of art has featured in many psychoanalytic and modernist art theories. Through discussing the practice of artists including Vito Acconci, Judy Chicago, Claudette Johnson and Mary Kelly, this book covers topics including pornography, feminism, gender and repression.

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (2019)
Caroline Criado Perez
Invisible Women offers a fascinating look at how our world is largely built for and by men, from technology and urban planning to government policy and the media.

Close: Drawn Portraits (2018)
Edited by Kate Macfarlane, Drawing Room, London
This catalogue accompanies the exhibition, Close: Drawn Portraits, which took place at Drawing Room, London, in 2018. Focusing on the intimate relationship between artist and subject, featured artists include Paul Cézanne, Barbara Hepworth, Lucian Freud, Paula Rego and Claudette Johnson.

Vagina: A re-education (2019)
Lynn Enright
Part memoir, part practical guide and political discourse, Vagina: A re-education encourages women from all over the world to join together in conversations about consent, power and the vital need for knowledge about their own bodies.

This Bridge Called My Back, Fourth Edition: Writings by Radical Women of Colour
Rosario Morales, edited by Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa
First published in 1983, this landmark collection of essays, interviews, testimonials, poetry and visual art, offers a resolute and powerful definition of feminism by women of colour.

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging (2018)
Afua Hirsch
Brit(ish) is about a search for identity and an urgent call for change. Personal and provocative, in his book Afua Hirsch writes about the everyday racism that still occurs within British society.

Read more about the exhibition, I Came to Dance here.

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