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Arnolfini - est 1961

Looking back at this influential exhibition in which contemporary artists explored Britain’s colonial past.

Split across sites in Liverpool, Bristol and Hull, the landmark 1992–93 exhibition ‘Trophies of Empire’ was initiated by artist Keith Piper and Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool, co-organised with Arnolfini and Hull Time Based Arts. For it, artists were invited to respond to the histories of British imperial power and the transatlantic slave trade, and their imprint on the present, particularly in relation to the three host port cities. Gathering together new artistic commissions and live art performances, each element of ‘Trophies of Empire’ was designed to interrogate and challenge the life and legacy of British colonialism. The exhibition was set against the backdrop of two significant geopolitical events in 1992: the quincentenary of Columbus’ colonial ‘discovery’ of the Americas, and consolidation of ‘Fortress Europe’ with the founding of the European Union by the Maastricht Treaty.

With the participation of Keith Piper and Bryan Biggs (Bluecoat), this event brings together artists, academics and people involved in ‘Trophies of Empire’ to look in detail at this far-reaching exhibition. The afternoon will begin with an in-conversation between Piper, Biggs and Louis Hartnoll (Afterall), followed by a roundtable led by Dr Anjalie Dalal-Clayton (Research Fellow at the Decolonising Art Institute, University of the Arts London). In between the two public discussions, attendees will have the chance to look through a range of materials related to the exhibition held in the Arnolfini Archive.

This event is organised in collaboration with Afterall as part of their Exhibition Histories research and publication project. For more details about this project, please visit Afterall

Generously supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.