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EMPIRE LINES uncovers the unexpected, often two-way, flows of empires through art.

Interdisciplinary thinkers use individual artworks as artefacts of imperial exchange, revealing the how and why of the monolith ‘empire’.


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MUSIC: Combinación // The Dubbstyle

PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic
74 Episodes
Tate Modern curator Nabila Abdel Nabi plants European abstract art in transnational networks of spirituality and theosophy, through Hilma af Klint’s 1908 series or cycle, The Evolution, Paintings for the Temple. Abstract artists Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian never met. But in their respective environments of Sweden and the Netherlands, both invented new languages of visual art as rooted in nature at the turn of the 20th century. Departing from traditional landscapes - with a touch of Vincent Van Gogh - they embarked on radical and ethereal painting series, connecting humans as a part of. not separate to, ecology. Nabila Abdel Nabi, a curator of Tate Modern’s new exhibition, Forms of Life, explores how showing these artists in conversation defies their typical depiction as solitary artists who worked alone. We see Klint and Mondrian as active participants in global communities, with works that speak to scientific debates around Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the spiritual and philosophical movement, theosophy. Rethinking ‘control’ and ‘rationality’ - as stereotypes of abstract art, and concepts used to exclude women artists from history - Abdel Nabi underlines af Klint and Mondrian’s intuitive practices, and how both used abstraction not to defy nature, but to think through it. Hilma af Klint & Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life runs at the Tate Modern in London until 3 September 2023. For more on theosophy, hear Jessica Albrecht’s EMPIRE LINES on the 'White Buddhist' Statue of Theosophist Henry Steel Olcott, Colombo (c. 1970s): For more on Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern, listen to Carine Harmand, Keith Shiri, and Richard Gray on EMPIRE LINES: WITH: Nabila Abdel Nabi, Curator of International Art at Tate Modern, and a curator of Hilma af Klint & Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life. ART: ‘The Evolution, Paintings for the Temple, Hilma af Klint (1908)’. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES on Twitter: And Instagram: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
Raina Lampkins-Felder, Curator at the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, weaves together the histories of Black artists who stayed in Southern America during the Great Migration, like the Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend. Black artists based in the American South have always forged unique artistic practices - as multigenerational as multimedia in form. Using found and ‘reclaimed’ materials, their sculptures, paintings, drawings, and quilts speak to these artists’ individual ingenuity, and the enslavement, Jim Crow-era segregation, and institutionalised racism which continues to colour America’s past and present. Geographically isolated, but well-connected within communities, artists like Thornton Dial, Estelle Witherspoon, and the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers have challenged conventions about the education and display of art - perhaps why they’ve been overlooked in the canon of art history. As a landmark exhibition opens in London, ‘activist curator’ Raina Lampkins-Felder shares why so many artists stayed on their lands, and why last names like Lockett, Bendolph, and Pettway crop up time and again. We travel from plantations and kitchen tables, to yard shows, typically Southern sculpture parks, where artists self-represent and directly communicate with their publics. We hear about the women at the fore of the first Black-owned businesses in the US, what the Freedom Quilting Bee and local churches had to do the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and how contemporary housetop textiles continue to ‘bend and break’ traditions today. Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South runs at the Royal Academy in London until 18 June 2023. WITH: Raina Lampkins-Felder, Curator at the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. She is the curator of Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South. ART: Quilts by the Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend. IMAGE: Installation View. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES on Twitter: And Instagram: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
We return to Nalini Malani’s immersive installation My Reality is Different as it iterates in London, where curator Priyesh Mistry draws out the colonial and classical connections between the contemporary artist’s animation chamber, and the permanent collections of the National Gallery. Born in British India in 1946, the year before Partition, contemporary artist Nalini Malani has always focussed on both ‘fractures’ and continuity. From paintings to animations, her ambitious practice has always challenged conventions - none more so than her new installation, in which she ‘desecrates’ well known works of art with her iPad, drawing out overlooked details, and immersing the viewer in her own perspectives. As My Reality is Different moves from the Holburne Museum in Bath to London, curator Priyesh Mistry explains how Malani’s ‘endless paintings’ speak to historical continuities, from the economics of slavery, to contemporary violence, and the treatment of women in ancient Greece as Cassandra and Medea. He explores the artist’s use of Instagram as a ‘democratic platform’, and how the exhibition radically changes our realities, in how and what we see in these paintings, and museums as products of imperial exchange. Nalini Malani: My Reality is Different runs at the National Gallery in London until 11 June 2023. For more, listen to the artist Nalini Malani on EMPIRE LINES: And read my article in gowithYamo: WITH: Priyesh Mistry, Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Projects at the National Gallery, London, and a curator of Nalini Malani: My Reality is Different. ART: ‘The Experiment with the Bird in the Air Pump, Joseph Wright of Derby (1768) and My Reality is Different, Nalini Malani (2022)’. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES on Twitter: And Instagram: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
Winnie Sze and Pim Arts, curators at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands, carve out the connections between Dutch, Danish, and South African artists like Ernest Mancoba, and see how African masks and sculptures, encountered in European museums, shaped abstract-surrealism in the 20th century. Cobra - Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam - were three cities at the core of a pan-European political art movement, calling for freedom and common humanity in the wake of World War II. Drawing on cubism, expressionism, and surrealism, they shared Pablo Picasso’s attraction to African masks and sculpture. Yet, they worked between abstract and figurative art, some seeking to escape the exotification, othering, and orientalism of movements past. Born in British-colonial South Africa in 1904, Ernest Mancoba didn’t ‘come into contact’ with African sculpture as art until he travelled to ethnographic and colonial museums in Paris and London. Along with artists like Sonia Ferlov and Egill Jacobsen, he became a leading figure in collaborative movements like Linien (The Line) and Helhesten (Hell Horse), based in Denmark. Winnie Sze and Pim Arts curate two of three exhibitions celebrating 75 years of the Cobra art movement (1948-1951), which focus on Scandinavia. They detail the differences between African and Western sculpture, how Danish artists used satire and Degenerate Art in acts of resistance against the Nazi Empire, and why Denmark has been othered in the history of avant-garde art. The three exhibitions of Cobra 75: Danish Modern Art run at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands until 14 May 2023. For more, you can also read my review of Cobra 75 in gowithYamo: WITH: Pim Arts, curator of We Kiss the Earth - Danish Modern Art 1934-1948. Winnie Sze, curator of Je est un autre: Ernest Mancoba and Sonja Ferlov. Both exhibitions are part of Cobra 75: Danish Modern Art. ART: Works from ‘We Kiss the Earth: Danish Modern Art, 1934-1948’. IMAGE: Peter Tijhuis. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
Design Museum curator Rachel Hajek makes sense of Ai Weiwei’s ‘fields’ of found objects, from ancient Chinese porcelain to Lego bricks, and how the contemporary artist’s fascination with the history of making is itself making history. One of the world’s most well-known living artists and activists, Ai Weiwei works across disciplines, from film and sculpture, to collection, curation, and archealogical excavation. But Making Sense is his first exhibition to focus on design and architecture, and how traditional crafts and artefacts can help us re/consider what we value today. One of Weiwei’s ‘fields’ of found objects features over 200,000 hand-crafted porcelain spouts from Song dynasty China, their sheer quantity a testament to the scale of mass-production in Asia, many centuries before the Industrial Revolution. Curator Rachel Hajek digs into Weiwei’s practice and politics, exploring tensions between the minor and the monumental, construction and destruction, and past and present. Plus, how the artist reimagines ‘Western masterpieces’ like Claude Monet’s Waterlilies with LEGO. to articulate his relationships with his father, a poet subjugated during the Cultural Revolution, and the Chinese state today. Ai Weiwei: Making Sense runs at the Design Museum in London until 30 July 2023. For more, read my article in gowithYamo: WITH: Rachel Hajek, Assistant Curator at the Design Museum, and a curator of Making Sense. ART: ‘Spouts, Ai Weiwei (2023)’. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
Professors Miriam Leonard and Daniel Orrells, curators at the Freud Museum London, dig into the Austrian’s collection of ancient objects, and how archaeology shaped his approach to psychoanalysis in the 20th century. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) simultaneously pioneered both psychoanalysis and global antiquity.  Fascinated by classical cultures, he collected objects across space and time, from Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, finding interconnections across the Mediterranean and Middle East. Freud challenged historical precedents - posing Moses as an Egyptian, not a Jew - but he also appropriated classical history to legitimate his practice, and reckon with ideas like the Oedipus Complex. But above all, Freud saw the mind and conscious as ‘an archaeological site’. Likewise, Professors Miriam Leonard and Daniel Orrells dig into his study to find the objects for Freud’s Antiquity, unearthing his complex position as both a product and critic of 19th century imperialism. They share how Freud challenged the Western ownership of both historical objects and knowledge, the parallels between individual and human history, why his writings reflect the Nazification of Europe before World War II, and how the violence of empire continues to impact our present. Freud’s Antiquity: Object, Idea, Desire runs at the Freud Museum London until 16 July 2023. For more on Freud’s Asian objects, listen to Professor Craig Clunas, curator of Freud and China, on EMPIRE LINES: WITH: Miriam Leonard, Professor of Greek Literature and its Reception at University College London (UCL). Daniel Orrells, Professor of Classics and Centre Director for Queer@Kings at King’s College London (KCL). They are co-curators are Freud’s Antiquity: Object, Idea, Desire. ART: ‘Red-Figure Hydria, Greece (380-360BCE)’. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
Could the state of state-lessness mean a more continental, inclusive sense of belonging? The contemporary Southeast and East Asian artists of the collective Kakilang certainly think so. Challenging their conflation as ‘Chinese’, their joint exhibition in London spans the historical migration routes of Vietnamese refugees, to audio maps of Taiwan, and post-Tsunami Japan - regions rarely considered by Western audiences, and rarely from local perspectives. Yet these diverse artworks really speak to similarities, rather than distinct identities, between Asian countries, connecting built and natural environments across the continent. Take Law Yuk-Mui’s 2021 video ‘River Atlas’, which follows the flows of rivers with the same name in Hong Kong and India, two former colonies in the British Curator Ling Tan reveals how photographic art can refocus our attention from the coloniser/colonised relationship, onto common experiences between artists in Asia, in diasporas, and in the UK. They also speak of the role of language for the 46 million people who use Hokkien, and why their captions read in traditional Mandarin, not the simplified form common in China. Drawing on their own practice as an artist, we see how comforting foods could break down the stereotype of Asian countries as environmentally destructive - and why the exhibition combines new scaffolding and neo-Gothic architecture, to reconstruct shared colonial pasts. State-less 無國界 runs at Two Temple Place in London until 9 April 2023. (You’ll find all the links in the episode notes.) WITH: Ling Tan, curator of State-less 無國界. They are an artist and the Associate Artistic Director of Kakilang (formerly Chinese Arts Now, CAN), an annual festival which celebrates the work of artists from across the wide spectrum of East and Southeast Asian heritages. ART: ‘River Atlas, Law Yuk-Mui (2021)’. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
Rijksmuseum curator Valika Smeulders polishes and personalises our understanding of the Dutch Golden Age, from their joint exhibition with the UN, Slavery: Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery. When Slavery opened at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 2021, it was one of the first exhibitions of its kind. Spanning 250 years from the 17th to the 19th century, it told Dutch colonial history as a common, national history, centred on lived experience. Its ten stories travel from Brazil, Suriname, and the Caribbean, to South Africa, Asia, and the Netherlands, featuring those who were enslaved, those who profited from slavery, and those who resisted the plantation system. These personal stories connect us as individuals across space and time, asking difficult questions. Were European abolitionists so important in ending the transatlantic slave trade? And what does it mean to be a descendant of plantation owners today? As an adapted version of the exhibition opens at the United Nations in New York, curator Valika Smeulders explores how material and immaterial cultures together reveal ‘what you don’t see’ in museums, why museums must collaborate, how temporary exhibitions can change permanent collections, and the power of personal storytelling in spaces of contemporary political power. Slavery: Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery runs at the United Nations Headquarters Visitors’ Lobby in New York until 30 March, then across UN offices throughout 2023.  You can also access the entire exhibition online.  WITH: Dr. Valika Smeulders, one of the four curators of Slavery: Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery, in Amsterdam (2021) and in New York (2023). She is the head of the Department of History at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. IMAGE: Richard Koek. SOUNDS: Rijksmuseum. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
Japan House curator Hashimoto Mari and translator Eyre Kurasawa unravel kumihimo, the ancient craft of Japanese silk braiding, and how its contemporary reconstructions connect Edo-era samurai armour with French military fashions from the 19th century. Literally translated as ‘joining threads together’, kumihimo is the intricate Japanese practice of cord braiding. Its strong and flexible ‘structure’ has lent its use to everything from samurai sword scabbards and handles, tying high-fashion kimono and haori following the restoration of the Emperor Meiji in 1868, to origami, solar panels, and aerospace engineering today. Japan House’s new exhibition highlights the work of DOMYO, a Tokyo-based workshop established in 1652 which still practices and researches this traditional craft, with the Shōsōin (Imperial) Repository in Nara. Curator Hashimoto Mari unravels the simultaneous evolution of braiding in China, Asia, and South America, its surprising overlaps with Western textile designs like tartan, and how contemporary modeller Hasegawa Akira reconstructs Napoleonic army jackets, replacing ‘Russian braids’ with kumihimo to hint at the common threads between Japanese and European military histories. KUMIHIMO: Japanese Silk Braiding by DOMYO runs at Japan House London until 11 June 2023. For more, read my review of KUMIHIMO in gowithYamo: WITH: Hashimoto Mari, curator of KUMIHIMO: Japanese Silk Braiding by DOMYO. She is the vice-chairperson of EISEI BUNKO, and a writer and editor who specialises in the Japanese arts. Eyre Kurasawa is an interpreter, writer, and researcher in Japanese and English. ART: ‘French Army Tunic, Hasegawa Akira (2021)’. SOUNDS: DOMYO. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
Curator Barnaby Wright transports us from the Courtauld Gallery in London, to the Caribbean island of Trinidad, as seen - and heard - by Peter Doig, one of Europe’s most highly valued contemporary painters. Peter Doig’s vast figurative paintings pay homage to the many places where he has lived and practiced - though never really called home. Born in Edinburgh in 1959, his career has been characterised by constant travel and movement, and his status as Europe’s most expensive living artist. But his landscapes are layered in with multiple, and more popular, inspirations - like found photographs, films, and above all, music - settings which move between figuration and abstraction, actuality and the imagination. Trinidad is perhaps the unlikely focus of the Courtauld Gallery’s new exhibition, which shows works painted since Doig’s recent return to London from the Caribbean, where he has lived since 2002. Mainstream art markets often prize Doig’s isolated Canadian mountain scenes, influenced by the likes of Edvard Munch, but here we see the artist as an active participant in Port of Spain’s local community, practicing with the BBC’s Boscoe Holder, poet Derek Walcott, and prisoners on the island of Carrera. Curator Dr. Barnaby Wright delves into Doig’s loving depictions of the Mighty Shadow, a titan of Trinidadian calypso and soca, why Carnival keeps him working all night, and how the self-portrayed ‘outsider’ both draws from - and challenges - exotifying gazes on non-European subjects from post-Impressionists like Paul Gauguin. Peter Doig runs at the Courtauld Gallery in London until 29 May 2023. WITH: Dr. Barnaby Wright, curator of Peter Doig. He is the Deputy Head of the Courtauld Gallery and Daniel Katz Curator of 20th Century Art. ART: ‘Painting on an Island (Carrera), Peter Doig (2019)’. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
We're back offline, and inside Banned., a new exhibition blending archive and present-day photography at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. Curator Sabina Desir joins Anita, Mark, and Julie - three children of Black and Indigenous American airmen stationed at RAF Manston in the 1950s - to imprint their portraits of racial identity and ambiguity in Britain. Between 1951 and 1958, 2500 US Air Force servicemen and women were stationed at RAF Manston, near Margate. 200 were African American, and others were from non-white Indigenous and ethnic groups. After finding a 1957 newspaper article in the East Kent Times which downplayed the level of segregation imposed on British soil - and the furious responses this triggered from residents at the time - curator Sabina Desir began to reach out to those in the community today. Anita, Mark, and Julie, portrayed on the walls by local artist Richard Birch, share their lived experiences of tracing their ancestry - some, all the way back to Cherokee chiefs. Plus, Sabina exposes the different perceptions of the post-war Windrush generation, new connections in Charlie Evaristo-Boyce's pop art series, and the power of representing these people in the same place where they were banned. Banned. runs at the Turner Contemporary in Margate until 8 May 2023. WITH: Sabina Desir, curator of Banned. She is the Artistic Director and Creative Producer of the Ramsgate-based Freedom Road Project. Anita Stokes, Mark Mahan, and Julie Wing are all children of Manston US Air Force Servicemen, working with the Banned. project. ART: Children of the Manston US Air Force Servicemen Print Series, Richard Birch (2023) IMAGE: 'Anita Stokes, Mark Mahan, and Julie Wing, in front of their portraits in Children of the Manston US Air Force Servicemen Print Series, Richard Birch (2023)'. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: 
EMPIRE LINES uncovers the unexpected, often two-way, flows of empires through art. Interdisciplinary thinkers use individual artworks as artefacts of imperial exchange, revealing the how and why of the monolith ‘empire’. Now, EMPIRE LINES is moving offline for good - with even more exclusive interviews recorded on location with the world's leading curators, historians, and artists, bringing museums and exhibitions to meet you. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: MUSIC: Combinación // The Dubbstyle PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic
Dr. Sarah Longair unseats European powers' efforts to control the East African coast, through a Kiti Cha Enzi, or Swahili Chair of Power, produced in the 19th century. Intricately decorated with an ivory inlay, a large, wooden throne sits proudly - not in its place of production of Witu, Kenya, but the stores of the British Museum. Kiti cha enzi, or seats of power, were used as thrones by Swahili rulers from the 18th century. Their distinctive form incorporates myriad cultural influences, highlighting the vibrant pre-colonial trading history of the Swahili community, while their symbolic use speaks to shifting patterns of power on the African coast. Produced as Germany and Britain competed for colonial control on the East African coast, this chair is a material symbol of how a small Swahili community resisted European expansion. Its seizure from the Swahili Sultan Fumo Bakari, and subsequent relocation by Admiral Fremantle to the National Maritime Museum, and later British Museum, speaks to our current interests in the colonial origins of museum objects. But it also reveals the complex rivalries between Western imperial pofwers, and how East African leaders exercised their own agency by playing them against each other. PRESENTER: Dr. Sarah Longair, Senior Lecturer in the History of Empire at the University of Lincoln. ART: Kiti Cha Enzi (Swahili Chair of Power), East Africa (19th Century). IMAGE: 'Sketch of Kiti Cha Enzi of the Sultan of Witu, British Museum Af1992,05.1. Drawing: S Longair'. SOUNDS: Radi Cultural Group. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: 
Dr. Chris Spring tears up stereotypes of African textiles, through Araminta de Clermont's 2010 photograph, Thabo, Thabiso and Blackx. Three young men wait at a bus stop near Cape Town in South Africa, clad in blankets of brilliant blue and rose red. Historically, these 'African' woven textiles were originally manufactured by Europeans during the colonial period. Dutch imperial traders, who first entered the Indian Ocean trade in the mid-seventeenth century, only added to the existing vigorous trade in textiles which had been carried out by Indian, Arab, and Chinese traders for many centuries before the arrival of Europeans. From indigo resist-dyed blauwdruk, to Swahili kanga, and South African shweshwe, these ‘authentic’ products are truly the hybrid product of places and peoples working across and within empires - from factories in Manchester, to migrant merchants from Kutch, and businesses within the Japanese Empire. This confident photograph speaks to how patterns and designs had always been dictated by African taste, aesthetics, and patronage, and utilised by women to communicate across gendered and religious social boundaries. Now representative of diverse African identities and indigeneity, these fabrics unsettle ideas of what an 'African' textile should look like, revealing innovation and modernity - all the way to the Marvel film, Black Panther. PRESENTER: Dr. Chris Spring, artist, writer and former curator in the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum  He was the curator of Social Fabric: African Textiles Today, at the British Museum and William Morris Gallery. ART: Thabo, Thabiso and Blackx, Araminta de Clermont (2010). IMAGE: 'Thabo, Thabiso and Blackx'. SOUNDS: Chad Crouch. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: 
We're back offline, and in the artist's bedroom at Van Gogh House in London, as Vaishnavi Mohan pins down Harold Offeh's sound installation, We Came Here, an imagined conversation on migration between Vincent Van Gogh and the Jamaican-born, Brixton-based community leader, Olive Morris. In 1873, the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh arrived in Stockwell in South London. Almost a century later, Olive Morris, a Jamaican-born community leader, was actively campaigning for feminist, Black, and squatters' rights in nearby Brixton. Researching the lives of these two 20 year olds, Harold Offeh, Van Gogh House's then artist-in-residence, became intrigued by the idea of the artist as a ‘migrant’ in London. His sound installation, We Came Here, is an cross-generational conversation between artist and activist, exploring their shared and common experiences of London, housing rights and social justice, and the development of their individual sociopolitical awarenesses. Community Engagement Guide Vaishnavi Mohan shares narratives of young migrants arriving in London today, delving into questions of access and decolonisation of the museum space. We Came Here runs at Van Gogh House London until 18 December 2022. PRESENTER: Vaishnavi Mohan, Community Engagement Guide at Van Gogh House, and science communicator. ART: We Came Here, Harold Offeh, with voice actors Abel Enkelaar and Nkara Stephenson (2022). IMAGE: 'Van Gogh's Bedroom.' SOUNDS: Extract from We Came Here, Harold Offeh. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: 
Deborah Lee-Talbot exposes the political agency of Indigenous women in British New Guinea, through a photograph of the Papuan Geua, taken in the 1880s. In her European 'Mother Hubbard' dress, and necklace made of local shells, Geua's status as a powerful, 'Big Woman' of Papua New Guinea is without question. A politically motivated Indigenous intermediary, she collaborated with the British missionaries and explorers that visited Port Moresby during the late nineteenth century, when the island was known as British New Guinea in the British Empire. Geua' prominence is evidenced by her repeated presence throughout the London Missionary Society's (LMS) archives, photographed by the likes of George Lawes. Her images serve in part as mission propaganda for European audiences, revealing what it was like for religious missionaries in the tropical Pacific region. Yet rereading Geua’s photograph from her perspective challenges the idea of Papuans' evolution as Christians, exposing Geua’s own agency as an Indigenous woman, and her critical role in bridging two distinctive cultures - as well as the unique role colonial photographs play today. PRESENTER: Deborah Lee-Talbot, doctoral candidate in Australian-Pacific and archival history at Deakin University, Australia. ART: Indigenous Intermediary Geua in ‘Photographs Mainly of Port Moresby’, George Lawes, (1880s). IMAGE: 'Geua'. SOUNDS: Blue Dot Sessions. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: 
Dr. Helen Paul bursts the South Sea Bubble, tracing the triangular trade of slavery between London and Britain's colonies in South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, via John Cleveley's 18th century painting, The Luxborough Galley on Fire. Sailing into the dark green waters of the mid-Atlantic Ocean, the Luxborough Galley is in imperilled. Consumed by flames, with no land in sight, its white passengers frantically firefight - to no avail. Commissioned by one of the ship's few survivors for display in Greenwich, John Cleveley's six oil paintings recast the story as one of British heroism - erasing the history of the South Sea Company's colonial profiteering, catastrophic South Sea Bubble of 1720, and scapegoating its enslaved Black passengers for carelessly causing the blaze. Still housed in the National Maritime Museum, on the southern bank of the River Thames, John Cleveley’s rendering exposes London's vast investment into the international slave trade, linking British colonies across the world. By focussing on cannibalism, it unintentionally commemorates the inhumanity, lack of civislisation, and crimes against humanity committed by its white colonial benefactors. PRESENTER: Dr Helen Paul, lecturer in Economics and Economic History at the University of Southampton, and Honorary Associate Professor at the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction at UCL. ART: The Luxborough Galley on Fire, 25 June 1727, John Cleveley the Elder (c. 18th Century). IMAGE: 'The 'Luxborough Galley' on fire, 25 June 1727'. SOUNDS: One Man Book. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: 
James Marriott traces the flows of Britain's global oil empire in the 20th century, from a village in Nigeria to The Beatles' 1965 vinyl, Drive My Car. Penned by Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1965, ‘Drive my Car’ transported The Beatles on their way to international success. It is the soundtrack of the British empire of the 1960s, characterised by pop culture domination and high-powered men in business suits, rather than top hats and general's uniforms. This ‘late empire’ was built on petrol, plastics, airplanes and vinyl records - which permeated British homes and everyday lives. Tracing the crude oil connections between Ogoni in Nigeria to refineries in Wales, and the colonial heritage of businesses like Shell-BP, James Marriott exposes the pipeline politics underlying Britain’s global empire of oil. PRESENTER: James Marriott, writer and activist at Platform. He is the co-author of Crude Britannia: How Oil Shaped a Nation with Terry Macalister, published by Pluto Press in 2021. He is executive producer of THE OIL MACHINE (2022), a documentary film screening across the UK in November 2022. ART: Vinyl Record of Drive My Car, The Beatles (1965). IMAGE: 'Women at the EMI factory packing the Rubber Soul album'. SOUNDS: Atlas Sound. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: 
We're back offline, and into the deep black exhibition space of Bath's Holburne Museum, where artist Nalini Malani coats fresh layers upon classical paintings from the National Gallery in her new installation, My Reality is Different. Artist Nalini Malani disrupts Western linear perspectives – in art, and in history. In My Reality is Different, the viewer is engulfed within a dark cavern, a panoramic 40 metres of wall space, shot with nine overlapping video projections all playing in a continuous loop. With tens of iPad-drawn animations. she adds layers to classical paintings from the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum in Bath. Born in 1946 in Karachi, British India, and now practicing in Mumbai, Malani has always radically questioned conventions of painting and drawing. She talks about reworking well-known works of art from alternative, and critical, perspectives, highlighting histories of the subaltern, women, and the colonial and imperial sources of wealth behind contemporary art collections. Nalini Malani: My Reality is Different runs at the Holburne Museum in Bath until 8 January 2023, and then the National Gallery in London from 2 March to 11 June 2023. For more, read my review of My Reality is Different in gowithYamo: PRESENTER: Nalini Malini, Mumbai-based artist. In 2020, she became the first-ever artist to receive the National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship. ART: My Reality is Different, Nalini Malani (2022). IMAGE: 'Nalini Malani in front of Caravaggio’s 'The Supper at Emmaus' (1601) at the National Gallery'. SOUNDS: Extract from My Reality is Different, Nalini Malani. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at:  Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon: 
Dr. Michele Lamprakos reconstructs the imperial flows of Islamic and Byzantine architecture from 8th century Spain, through the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, or the Mezquita. A strange, hybrid building dominates the southern Spanish city of Córdoba. Part mosque, part cathedral, the Mezquita was first constructed by the early Islamic Umayyad dynasty - then seized, 'purified,' and consecrated as a Christian church in the 13th century. This infamous Christianised mosque, complete with crucero, epitomised the imperial 'Christian universe' of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Habsburg dynasty's victory over Islam. Still, much of the Islamic fabric was politically preserved – and even reconstructed - in testament to Spain's long history of religious rivalry and reconciliation. Tracing these unending cycles of Christianisation and re-Islamification reveals Spain's imperial ambitions in northern Africa, and how the Mezquita remained a political tool through the 20th century General Franco dictatorship to today. PRESENTER: Dr. Michele Lamprakos, Associate Professor of Architectural and Urban History at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland-College Park. ART: The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba (8th Century). IMAGE: ‘Mezquita, Cornelia Steffens'. SOUNDS: Gnawledge. PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic. Follow EMPIRE LINES at: Support EMPIRE LINES on Patreon:
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