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ARAEEN, Rasheed; Chaar Yaar I (four friends)

The sculptures Rasheed Araeen created after his arrival in London in 1964 were largely created from DIY products such as balsa wood and house paint. He approached works of art not as finished objects, but as a collective process with a focus on modularity and interactivity. Araeen developed sculptures and proposals for modular structures that could be continually rearranged by participants to create a plurality of formal relationships. Although he endlessly created and experimented after moving to London, he also became increasingly aware of the institutional racism operating within the arts establishment.

In the 1970s, Araeen created a range of experimental artworks and staged a number of politically driven performances. He also joined the British Black Panthers Movement in 1972 and began working with Artists For Democracy, performing at the artist collective’s first opening in 1974, and later executing a highly charged performance and exhibition titled Paki Bastard (Portrait of the Artist as a Black Person) in 1977. Araeen also began a prolific publishing career, inaugurating the journal Black Phoenix in 1978, which in 1987 developed into the influential and long running journal Third Text. In 1989, Araeen curated ‘The Other Story’ at London’s Hayward Gallery, featuring artists of Asian, African and Caribbean descent, which was staged partly in response to the ‘Magiciens de la terre’ exhibition, held at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris the same year.