Omar Victor Diop, Empire Windrush, Tilbury Docks: 1948 (2018)
Omar Victor Diop, Empire Windrush, Tilbury Docks: 1948 (2018)
Fundraiser Limited Edition
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In 2018, Autograph commissioned Senegalese artist Omar Victor Diop to produce two new works in the context of his solo exhibition Liberty/Diaspora. In his practice, Diop imaginatively recasts histories and the global politics of black resistance, exploring what unifies and defines these fights for freedom and human rights. Rich in detail and symbolism, his elaborately staged tableauxs constitute ‘a reinvented narrative of the history of black people, and therefore, the history of humanity and of the concept of Freedom.’
The commission invited Diop to visually respond to an iconic image of three men posing for the camera after the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush, which docked at Tilbury, Essex on 22 June 1948 carrying 492 economic migrants from the West Indies. In the second work, Diop chose to re-interpret an iconic photograph depicting a group of men waiting outside the Ministry of Labour & National Service in Liverpool (1949; first published in Picture Post’s Is There a British Colour Bar photo-essay).
Diop says of the commission: "It was a pleasure to produce this artist commission for Autograph, who presented my first solo exhibition in the UK in 2018. The idea behind the two images was to interpret a key moment in (black) history in Britain, and celebrate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush in 1948. The photographs I researched from the era show men from the Caribbean dressed in stylish suits, hats, posing for the camera and captured at this moment of a change, when a new phase in their lives is about to begin, full of hope and anticipation.
The reality of course was that they faced discrimination, hardship and unemployment... The first portrait is based on an 'arrival' image from June 1948, while the second portrait re-stages an archive image of a group of unemployed men at the Ministry of Labour approximately one year later. Conceptually, the two works reflect the visual style, rich colours and multiple protagonists of my previous series Liberty, including the recurring flower motif. The pages surrounding the protagonists are from a letter penned by former Prime Minister Clement Attlee (1945-1951) on 5 July 1948 detailing information about immigration to the UK. These are metaphorical self-portraits, re-imagining different moments [ of resistance ] in history - and celebrating long African lineages in the diaspora."
Omar Victor Diop (b. 1980, Dakar, Senegal) developed his interest in photography and design at an early age and uses the medium to capture the diversity of modern African societies and lifestyles. Following acclaim for his early conceptual projects, he left his career in corporate communications to pursue life as an artist. Diop’s body of work includes fine art, fashion and portrait photography – including The Studio of Vanities, a series of staged portraits showing the new faces of art and culture scenes in African urban centres.
Diop fuses photography with other art forms, and often incorporates costume design, styling and creative writing to give life to his projects. Since his inclusion in the Rencontres de Bamako, Mali (2011) Diop’s work has been included in exhibitions in Europe and Africa, most recently as part of ReSignifications: European Blackamoors, Africana Readings, a collateral project of the MANIFESTA European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Palermo, Italy (2018). Solo shows include Institut Français de Dakar/ Biennale de lʼArt Africain Contemporain de Dakar (2012), Hôtel ONOMO, Dakar at the Maison de l'Afrique, Paris (2013) and at the Allianza Franceza de Màlaga, Spain (2014). Diop currently lives in Dakar, and works between Paris, New York and Senegal. He is represented by Gallery MAGNIN-A, Paris.
This limited edition has been generously donated to Autograph by the artist as a fundraiser. Autograph is a registered charity in England, all purchases support our arts and learning programmes.
Commissioned by Autograph
Size: image size 45 x 45cm, on 60 x 60xm paper
Archival giclée print, hahnemuhle photo rag baryta print
Printed 2019 by Metro Imaging, London
Edition of 25 + 5 Artist Proofs
Signed and numbered on archival label by the artist
With certificate of authenticity issued by Autograph©️ Omar Viktor Diop
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