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Turner Prize Winner Lubaina Himid Explores Black Identities In The Web Of Global Prejudice

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Zanzibar-born Lubaina Himid is the first black woman to ever win the Turner Prize. She’s also the oldest at age 63. Himid's artistic focus is the "forgotten creative legacies of the African diaspora", writes Vogue UK

The politically-charged images that comprise her Turner Prize exhibition drill deeply into prejudice. In 'Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dinner Service' Lubaina takes the traditional British crockery of history’s elite and, by painting over it, reveals the mostly invisible stories of the servers. By leaving the intricate detailing of the original china around the edges, Himid reveals the complex framework of prejudice that Western society stands on cannot be erased. 

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In a piece with high-impact for AOC readers, 'Negative Positives' demonstrates how the media defines black identity. Using collaged pages from 'The Guardian', Himid exposes that even when black people like Jourdan Dunn receive positive coverage, they are surrounded by negativity. Dunn's image is embedded with race-related headlines like "Second police killing fuels US racial tensions." Ugandan midwives pose in a positive article, but next door on the front page "Gangs are getting younger and more violent, Met chief warns."

Both make for good headlines -- except they are visually and mentally intertwined, argues Lubaina. Unintentionally, just as slaves stood at the dinner table and were complicit in their captivity, today's culturally-celebrated black figures like Dunn participate unintentionally in their own corrupted image. 

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Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chair of the Turner Prize jury, said he believed Himid’s selection vindicated this year’s decision to lift the restriction on artists over 50 being nominated for the first time since 1991.

He said: “It reflects well on the motivation for lifting it which is an increasing sense that the work of older artists has been making considerable impact on what we’re looking at and how we’re thinking about art today.

“I think there is no longer an overwhelming focus on youth as equating to what’s innovative in contemporary art.”