By time-hopping through the decades, the exhibition explores themes of identity, stereotypes and integration within a ‘foreign’ society. Photographer Neil Kenlock captures the experience of first-generation migrants in their 1970s homes. His subjects pose proudly in front of televisions and telephones to a back-drop of dizzying wallpaper. With the photography of Raphael Albert we glimpse into the lives of beauty pageant contestants during an equality-lacking time. Beautiful women are primped, preened, adorned and often surrounded by men, leading us to ponder whether much has changed. Fast-forward to the 1990’s and British-Jamaican artist Maxine Walker presents us with a collection of self-portraits that challenge racial stereotypes. Walker displays the power of cosmetic and consumer goods by drastically transforming herself time and time again.
Staying Power gives a rounded portrayal of life for black Britons during a time of social and cultural upheaval; we focus in on the ordinary lives of the people and not just the ever-important confrontational image of marches and picket-boards. o second, third or even fourth-generation Britons today, the exhibition will have particular significance- these are their uncles, aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers and boy did they look good.
Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience 1950s – 1990s will be running at the V&A until 24th May.
[img='staying-power5.jpg' foot='Neil Kenlock, ‘Untitled [Young woman seated on the floor at home in front of her television set]', C- type print, London, 1972.']