birmingham

Rasheed Araeen

Ikon Gallery

Few people have challenged British institutional racism with the intelligent persistence of Rasheed Araeen. His retrospective in a public gallery, albeit a provincial one, is a fairly provocative event. During the 20 years since he arrived in Britain from Pakistan, Araeen has struggled to gain respect as a contemporary artist against an establishment that has consistently insisted on his marginal “ethnic” status. Araeen’s testimony to this struggle, Making Myself Visible (published in 1984), confirms the assertion by other writers that political imperialism thoroughly contaminates such liberalist notions as “intellectual freedom,” “esthetic quality,” and “political neutrality.”

Araeen remains a controversial figure, particularly in his objections to the British Government’s establishment of an arts-funding category, “ethnic minority arts,” set up ostensibly to meet the demands of black

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