Rianna Jade Parker reads “Letter from London: What is the Status of Black Artists in England Today?” published in ARTnews (June 2020), and engages Sky Goodden on issues of artworld access, stature, masculinity, precariousness, deference to sovereignty, and duty to one another, for Black British artists working in the UK. From Steve McQueen’s accepting the Knighthood to a broader conversation around meritocracy and the sudden rush of Black British art (after decades of deletion), Parker discusses her feeling of responsibility to her peers through criticism, and the long unmarked history that she’s beginning to write.

“Most other press speaks about Black British art right now as this […] thing that we need to cling to – this idea of Black culture, Blackness, ‘Black Britain’ – without really assessing ourselves or our social situation. I do love art; but I am all of these things before then. I live in a real material world. I try to explain to people ‘I’m in the art world, but not of the art world’. There is no amount of riches or patron support that I could get that would ever change that. And I don’t need it to.”

Parker is a critic, curator, and researcher based in South London who studied her MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Previously a Tate Collectives Producer, she is a Contributing Editor of frieze and a founding member of interdisciplinary art collective Thick/er Black Lines. She writes regularly for ARTnews (memorably on Kara Walker), friezeArtforum, and credits her first published criticism as coming into being through ARTS.BLACK.

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