Click Here for all the Audio from the event and a description of the participants work.
Many thanks to our presenters for their stimulating talks, and to the audience for a lively discussion. Dr.Caroline Bressey and Dr.Gemma Romain of the Equiano Centre were joined by Tate Britain curator Emma Chambers to talk about their research for the Tate Britain display ‘Spaces of Black Modernism’. The artworks were selected to reveal that the artistic community in Britain during the inter-war years included artists and models from diverse ethnic backgrounds. It was revealing to hear how these artists played an active and influential role in the art scene of the time, particularly in London. The curators have brought to light the trans-national exchange between artists of the pre-war era. It was fascinating to see the artworks, don’t miss the display!
Artist Helen Couchman described her project and book ‘Workers’- photographs of Chinese labourers at the Beijing Olympic site. These migrant workers often spend years many miles away from home. Helen spoke about the nature of the exchange between herself as the photographer and the labourers. She gave each one a high-quality print of the photograph, which many workers sent back to their families. The photographs enabled them to express a pride in what they had constructed. Helen then talked about her other book ‘ Mrs.West’s Hats'; a photo-essay in self-portraiture and identity. A series of photographs show Helen trying on her late grandmother’s many hats. The photographs capture her expression at the instant she saw herself in a mirror. The series elicits responses about family, memory and sense of self. Visit Helen’s website to see her photographs.
Many interesting connections between the two presentations emerged over the course of the evening including; identity, portraiture, ways of connecting with the past and with others.
Artist Helen Couchman will be talking about her first two books, ‘WORKERS (Gong Ren)’ and ‘Mrs. West’s Hats’. She will present the books and describe how her surroundings prompted each project. WORKERS her first book is a portrait of Chinese migrant workers building the Olympic Stadiums in Beijing in 2007/08. Her second book “Mrs. West’s Hats is a memorial piece about her late grandmother. The projects explore themes of repetition, participation, portraiture, self-portraiture and the role of photography as a record and a celebration.
Further information can be found at www.helencouchman.com
Helen Couchman moved to London to study first a BA and then an MA in Fine Art. More recently she was invited to do a period of PhD research into her own practice ending in 2012.Couchman lived in China for nearly seven years and during her time there exhibited in Hong Kong and numerous times in Beijing as well as back in the UK and in New York. Previously she had often produced new bodies of work while working abroad, Cyprus (2003), Armenia (2004), Vermont (2005) and China (2006). She worked in New York City on new work relating to that city and Beijing (2012/2013). Couchman will be artist in residence at The Asia Society and is planning an exhibition at CFCCA, Manchester both in 2015. She is currently based out of the UK and working in Oman on her third book.
Dr. Caroline Bressey and Dr. Gemma Romain will present on their research and curation with Tate Britain of the current display ‘BP Spotlight: Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919-39′. The display brings together artworks which demonstrate the trans-national exchange between artists from diverse ethnic backgrounds during the inter-war years. The artworks were selected from the Tate Collection and public and private collections. Between the wars, a cosmopolitan network of artists exchanged ideas in London’s art colleges, studios and clubs. They were instrumental in shaping the cultural and political identity of the city. Caroline and Gemma are researchers at the Equiano Centre at University College London. The Centre was founded to support research into the Black Presence in Britain. Spaces of Black Modernism builds on research from the Drawing Over the Colour Line project.
Dr. Caroline Bressey is a lecturer in the Department of Geography, UCL. Her research focuses upon recovering the historical geographies of the black community in Victorian Britain, especially London. Parallel to this are her interests in ideas of race, racism, early anti-racist theory and identity in Victorian society. A large part of her research uses photography and this interest led her to collaborate with the National Portrait Gallery, London, on the representation of black and Asian people in their collections. She has worked as a curator with the National Portrait Gallery and Museum in Docklands. Dr. Gemma Romain is a historian who researches Caribbean and Black diasporic history. Research Associate for the AHRC funded project ‘Drawing over the Colour Line’. Vera Douie Fellow at the Women’s Library, documenting interwar Black histories within the collections. Leverhulme Early Career fellowship at Newcastle University, project entitled ‘Negotiating Slavery and Freedom: petitioning and protest in the nineteenth century British Caribbean’. She has worked for various museums and archives including The National Archives UK and the National Maritime Museum. She has taught at Birkbeck College, University of London on the subject of Black hidden histories in museum and archival collections.
Following writing the tweet/FB update/Linkedin update above I was written to by Linkedin. They advised that my followers on Linkedin would not be able to see my updates. I responded:
Four journalists spoke to me about the story following my update above, Fergus Ryan at China Spectator, Tania Branigan at The Guardian, Austin Ramsey at The New York Times and Gwynn Guilford at Quartz.
“I’m very unhappy about it. I think it’s really unprofessional. Especially as I was only sharing things that are already in the public domain,” Ms Couchman told China Spectator.
LinkedIn said: ‘To create value for our members … we will need to implement the Chinese government’s restrictions on content.’
LinkedIn under fire for censoring Tiananmen Square posts
Networking site’s decision to stop members accessing prohibited content goes beyond Beijing’s strict web censorship rules
Tania Branigan in Beijing
Business networking site LinkedIn has said it will stop users seeing content posted from China that breaches the country’s strict censorship laws, after members complained that posts related to the Tiananmen anniversary had been blanked out.
LinkedIn is one of the few foreign social media services accessible from mainland China – where Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others are blocked – and launched a Chinese-language service earlier this year, but does not have servers on the mainland.
Its decision goes beyond Beijing’s requirements to restrict what users in China see and effectively exports some Chinese controls on content, though a spokesman said it was intended to protect users.
Artist Helen Couchman and journalist Fergus Ryan both reported receiving messages warning them that items they had posted would not be seen by LinkedIn members as they “contained content prohibited in China”.
Couchman, who lived in China for several years, said the decision to block articles she had shared about detained artist Guo Jian was outrageous. “I wasn’t even sharing an opinion,” she added.
Guo, who has Australian citizenship, was taken away by police in Beijing shortly after the publication of an interview in which he described participating in 1989’s pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and discussed a work he had created commemorating the bloody crackdown.
Ryan said in an article for the China Spectator site, for which he reports from China, that he too had posted pieces about Guo.
Roger Pua, director of corporate communications in the Asia-Pacific region for LinkedIn, said the company strongly supported freedom of expression, but added: “To create value for our members in China and around the world, we will need to implement the Chinese government’s restrictions on content, when and to the extent required … Members in China will not be able to access content that is prohibited in China.”
But the site is also preventing people outside China from seeing material that censors disapprove of if it was first posted from China.
Pua said: “Outside of China, members will be able to view content that is restricted in China, unless that content originated in China – this is to protect the privacy and security of the member who posted that content.
““LinkedIn, by its nature, is a professional network and not prone to conversations that are political in nature. We think the impact is very, very small.”
While most Chinese rely on heavily censored Chinese services – such as the Sina Weibo microblog – some, including many activists and dissidents, use VPNs or other methods to post material on Twitter and Facebook.
LinkedIn said in February that it was applying to set up operations in China, acknowledging it would need to comply with Chinese government demands to filter content.
Cynthia Wong, senior internet researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that while she was not aware of the LinkedIn case, “the best practice that has emerged is that companies will not censor for the world”.
She added: “If there’s material that needs to be taken down in one jurisdiction, competitors will leave it up for the rest of the world – precisely for the reason that we should not allow the internet to go to the lowest common denominator; it should not be scrubbed of everything bar material acceptable to the least tolerant government out there.”
Michael Anti, a Chinese commentator, said: “It means Linkedin now publicly accepts Chinese censorship rule for anyone who is in mainland China, without any hesitation.”
He compared it to Microsoft’s decision to remove his Chinese-language blog in 2005 – a move that sparked international criticism.
In that case, he said, “the company felt wrong and shameful. So you know how much internet freedom we have lost worldwide in the past decade.”
LinkedIn is censoring posts about Tiananmen Square by Gwynn Guilford
…Another person to encounter LinkedIn’s censorship was Helen Couchman, an artist and longtime Beijing resident who moved to Britain in February 2013, according to the China Spectator. Couchman said that LinkedIn deleted her post linking to an article about the Chinese authorities’ detention of Guo Jian, a Chinese-Australian artist and friend of Couchman’s. (She shared the same article on Facebook and Twitter, where her posts are still available.) She subsequently tweeted her dismay at LinkedIn…
Couchman’s LinkedIn account appears to be hosted on the mainland China site, cn.linkedin.com, which might explain why her posts fell under its censorship…