Published in three issues between 1978 and 1979, Black Phoenix: Journal of Contemporary Art & Culture in the Third World (the subtitle was changed to Third World Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Culture for its second and third issues) stands as a key document of its time. More than a decade after ’60s liberation movements and the historic Bandung and Tricontinental Conferences that called for social and political alignment and solidarity to dismantle Western imperialism and (neo)colonialism, Black Phoenix issued a rallying call for the formation of a Third World, liberatory arts and culture movement on the eve of Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979.
Based in the UK, and both international and national in scope, Black Phoenix positioned diasporic and colonial histories at the center of an evolving anti-racist and anti-imperialist consciousness in late 1970s Britain—one that would yield complex and nuanced discourses on race, class and postcolonial theory in England in the decade that followed.
A precursor to the British Black Arts Movement that formed in 1982 (which encompassed such cultural practitioners as the Black Audio Film Collective and cultural studies theorist Stuart Hall), Black Phoenix proposed a horizon for Blackness beyond racial binaries, across the Third World and the colonized of the interior in the West. This single-volume facsimile reprint gathers all three issues of the journal, which include contributions by art critics, scholars, artists, poets and writers, including editors Rasheed Araaen and Mahmood Jamal, Guy Brett, Kenneth Coutts-Smith, Ariel Dorfman, Eduardo Galeano, N. Kilele, Babatunde Lawal, David Medalla, Ayyub Malik, Susil Sirivardana and Chris Wanjala. - Artbook