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Inside the invisibleMemorialising Slavery and Freedom in the Life and Works of Lubaina Himid$
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Celeste-Marie Bernier, Alan Rice, Lubaina Himid, and Hannah Durkin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620856

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620856.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 14 May 2021

Tracing ‘the living/the dead/the ancestors’ in London and Paris Guidebooks (2009)

Tracing ‘the living/the dead/the ancestors’ in London and Paris Guidebooks (2009)

(p.249) 11 Tracing ‘the living/the dead/the ancestors’ in London and Paris Guidebooks (2009)
Inside the invisible

Celeste-Marie Bernier

Alan Rice

Lubaina Himid

Hannah Durkin

Liverpool University Press

‘What are monuments for? Possible landmarks on the urban map: Paris and London’ is the title of a performance script that Himid wrote to accompany London and Paris Guidebooks, a mixed-media work she created in 2009 and which is the subject of this chapter. ‘When I was in Paris a few months ago, I came across a delightful little guide book about London’, her imaginary narrative begins. ‘It lists nearly 300 places of interest. These, it claims, range from the National Gallery to “gruesome” Old St Thomas’s operating theatre and from ancient Charterhouse to modern Canary wharf’. Losing no time in communicating her subversive and satirical message, she relies on biting irony to declare that ‘I was glad to see the publishers had included most of the important landmarks, signalling the contribution made by Africans of the Black diaspora to this great and crazy city’. Clearly, this ‘delightful little guide book’ has succeeded in mapping ‘nearly 300 places of interest’ only to fail to memorialise the ‘contributions made by Africans of the Black diaspora’: a failure Himid takes to task by creating her own radically revisionist and Black-centric tourist guides. As works of social, moral and political reparation, Himid deliberately borrows from jingoistic nationalist language in her newly conceptualised London and Paris Guidebooks in order to decode and destabilise the ideological, political and cultural stranglehold exerted by celebratory narratives that trade only in white supremacist ‘landmarks’. Working across pictorial and textual modes, she endorses strategies of editing, collaging, insertion and juxtaposition to re-present as well as represent the missing ‘contribution made by Africans of the Black diaspora’. With Himid rather than nationalist apologists as our guide, we experience a very different London and Paris. Here she equips her audiences with a radical and revolutionary ‘narrative’ in which these ‘guide books’ texts’ and ‘a random selection of some of the monuments’ visibilise rather than invisi- bilise ‘The living/ The dead/ The ancestors/ The descendants’.

Keywords:   Lubaina Himid, Slavery, Memory, Freedom, the Body, Representation, Trauma, violence, activism, agency, resistance, rebellion, revolution, radicalism

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