Join WOCI in exploring, activating and indexing representations of cultural identity within the Panchayat Special Collection at Tate with Shaheen Merali


Join WOCI in exploring, activating and indexing representations of cultural identity within the Panchayat Special Collection at Tate with Shaheen Merali

Date: Friday 27th April 2018

Time: 10.30am – 1.00pm

Address: Tate Britain, Library & Archive Reading Rooms, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

The Women of Colour Index (WOCI) Reading Group aims to improve visibility for women of colour artists whilst using material in the library and archive to generate discussion and practice around current social and political concerns.

In these collaborative monthly research sessions at Tate, WOCI will draw upon the Panchayat Special Collection during its anniversary year; collectively exploring and highlighting the unique material within this vital collection of rare publications and exhibition ephemera from the 1980s.

About the Panchayat Special Collection
Panchayat was co-founded by Shaheen Merali and Allan de Souza in 1988, after consultation with artists Bhajan Hunjan, Symrath Patti, and Shanti Thomas. Panchayat was first organised by its co-founders as a project based arts organisation whose focus was to create an archive of works by contemporary artists who produced issue-based work, often in relation to developing and addressing plurality in multicultural environments. As Panchayat developed it was involved in publishing, curating exhibitions, programming conferences, and workshops.

The Panchayat Collection consists of documentation and reference library material relating to the cultural activities and activism predominantly in Britain, mainland Europe, North America and SE Asia between the 1980s and 2003. The Panchayat archive’s collecting strategy focused on the growing interactions within a globalising artworld of Black and Asian artists, as well documenting their commitment to the intersection between race, class, gender, policed sexualities, and (dis)ability. Dr Janice Cheddie and Shaheen Merali were keepers of the Panchayat Archive at the University of Westminster 2002 -2015 and remain central to its future development.

In May 2015 the contents of the collection were donated to the Tate Library as part of its Special Collection and since then has attracted researchers from both the arts and the humanities, including newer audiences that are interested in diasporic connections, Black and Asian British artists 1988- 2003, curatorial practices that emerged in the late eighties and in the role of women of colour in the visual arts and education.

All people of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, religions and race are welcome.

Reading Text:
Margaret Thatcher was quoted in Panorama programme ‘The Class Revolution’ as saying “We want our children to learn to add, subtract and not to learn anti-racist maths – whatever that may be.” The Prime Minister’s views legitimatised the claims of the media and the right wing educationists that anti-racist education “detracted from the real endeavours”. EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE ERA
Ann Marie Davies, Janet Holland, Rehana Minas. First published in March 1990.

Shaheen Merali is a curator and writer, currently based in London, who explores the intersection of art, cultural identity and global histories in his work. Previously, he was a key lecturer at Central Saint Martins School of Art (1995- 2003); a visiting lecturer and researcher at University of Westminster (1997- 2003) and the Head of Department of Exhibition, Film and New Media at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2003-2008) where he curated several exhibitions accompanied by publications, including The Black Atlantic; Dreams and Trauma- Moving images and the Promised Lands; and Re-Imagining Asia, One Thousand years of Separation.
Merali was the co-curator of the 6th Gwangju Biennale, Korea (2006) and co-curator of Berlin Heist or the enduring fascination of walled cities for the 4th Mediations Biennale, Posnan, Poland (2014).
His recent exhibitions include Refractions, Moving Images on Palestine, P21 Gallery, London; WhenViolence becomes Decadent, ACC Galerie, Weimar; Speaking from the Heart– The Polemic Sensibility from Iran, Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam and Fragile Hands- A curatorial essay on stated subjectivities, University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Masterclasses in 2015 include a series of talks on Globalisation at the London School of Contemporary Arts (LCCA) and Collaboration Strategies for the Amsterdam-based collective The State of L3. In 2017, the first of series of monographs edited by Merali has been released by Isolated Labs (Tavares Strachan) and forthcoming release by Carrots Publishing (JJ XI).
His essays have been included in recent publications including, Conflict And Compassion: A Paradox of difference in Contemporary Asian Art Edited by Bashir Makhoul and Alnoor Mitha, HOME Manchester, 2016; The Live Art Almanac Volume Edited by Harriet Curtis, Lois Keidan and Aaron Wright, Oberon Books London; Contemporary Art from the Middle East, Edited by Hamid Keshmirshekan, IB Tauris, 2015; Dissonant Archives, Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East, Edited by Anthony Downey, I.B.Tauris, 2015; In FLUX, Contemporary Art from Asia, Edited by P.D.Mukherji, N.P.Ahuja, K.Singh, Sage Publications, 2013 and Public Notice 3: Jitish Kallat at the Art Institute of Chicago,ed. by Madhuvanti Ghose. Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago and Yale University Press, 2011.‎
Curated exhibition: Re-Imagining Asia

About the WOCI Reading Group
The Women of Colour Index Reading Group was set up in October 2016 by artists, Samia Malik, Michelle Williams Gamaker and Rehana Zaman. WOCI sessions have focused on seminal exhibitions such as Testimony: Three Black Women Photographers (1986) and The Image Employed: the Use of Narrative in Black art (1987), and artists such as Zarina Bhimji, Martina Attile, Jagjit Chuhan, Sharon Curtis, Nina Edge, Maxine Walker, Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce and Chila Kumari Burman.

WOCI follow keenly in the footsteps of Rita Keegan who compiled the index and Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Lauren Craig, Mystique Holloway, Gina Nembhard and Zhi Holloway, who as the formidable art and art research collective X Marks the Spot (XMTS), took WOCI as the focus for their residency at the Women’s Art Library in 2012 culminating in the publication Human Endeavour.

To book tickets please visit Tate Webpage:




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