Should museums be made to give back their marbles? Is it even possible to ‘decolonize’ our galleries? Must Rhodes fall?
How to deal with the colonial history of art in museums and monuments in the public realm is a thorny issue that we are only just beginning to address. Alice Procter, creator of the Uncomfortable Art Tours, provides a manual for deconstructing everything you thought you knew about art history and tells the stories that have been left out of the canon.
The book is divided into four chronological sections, named after four different kinds of art space: The Palace, The Classroom, The Memorial and The Playground. Each section tackles the fascinating, enlightening and often shocking stories of a selection of art pieces, including the propaganda painting the East India Company used to justify its rule in India; the tattooed Maori skulls collected as ‘art objects’ by Europeans; and works by contemporary artists who are taking on colonial history in their work and activism today. The Whole Pictureis a much-needed provocation to look more critically at the accepted narratives about art, and rethink and disrupt the way we interact with the museums and galleries that display it.