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Keith Piper
Keith Piper rose to prominence in Britain in the 1980s, organizing exhibitions and conferences while still a student.

He famously met Eddie Chambers and Donald Rodney at art school and they formed the core of a burgeoning movement to bring black artists to the attention of the wider art world through exhibitions, conferences and published writings . Piper was thus key in creating a critical mass of attention and opportunity around the production of art by Black artists, the legacy of which is still felt today. This history is well documented (and fought over!) in Britain and Piper himself has written eloquently about the development and problematic of Black art in Britain, as well as about his own work and the politics that inform and generate the thinking in the work: 'Resisting Biometrics / Evolving Cyberebonics', and 'A Fictional tourist in Europe' to mention some recent examples.

All of his works are meticulously researched, every motif being loaded with significance depending on the geography or specific subject of the piece. His installations embody his maximalist aesthetic: multi media, made up of screens and objects, wall texts, music, spoken narration, texts in the catalogue. Overload is his stock in trade. Much of his installation work is specifically commissioned and made for the particular location of exhibition and each piece seems to arise out of painstaking and obsessive collecting; of information, of images and ideas reminiscent, say, of the montage of Chris Marker's Sans Soleil as much as Romare Bearden's projected collages. Yet, like the best of Marker, Piper evokes the storyteller rather than the journalist and it is through the use of montage that he foregrounds this effect. To choose to employ montage is to draw on a tradition that has been one of the key elements of critique in 20th Century modern art. What is at stake here is the active viewing subject, the viewer who can create meaning through the construction and reconstruction of the fragment.

(1) Of course many more artists were part of this development. See Chambers, Eddie, Joseph, Tam, The Art Pack: A History of Black Artists in Britain, London Borough of Haringey, 1988; Mercer, Kobena, Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies, Routledge, 1994; Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain, (ed) David A Bailey, Ian Baucom, Sonia Boyce, Duke University Press, 2005 amongst others.
(2) 'Resisting Biometrics / Evolving Cyberebonics', 2004, http://www.calling.org.uk/pages/commentary/piper/
(3) In Unpacking Europe (eds), Salah Hassan, Iftikhar, Dadi, Ken Lum, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam, 2002, pp 386-387

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