The exhibition pairs photographic work by two artists whose interests are very different but who both choose costume and theatre to represent the sitter and to challenge the viewer's perceptions and prejudices about race, gender and history.
The parallels between Sulter's portraits of black women, which seek to reposition them within British society and Western art history, and Chan-Hyo Bae's self-portraits in costume in which he also attempts to become a part of our national history, are both visually and socially challenging.
Maud Sulter (1960-2008) was born in Glasgow of Scots and had Ghanaian parentage. She was a poet, historian, teacher and artist - working with installation, photography and video. She participated in the notable exhibition The Thin Black Line at the ICA in 1985. Sulter produced Zabat in 1989 as a response to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of photography which she saw as an overwhelmingly white occasion. She was the artist-in-residence at Rochdale Art Gallery, where Zabat was first shown.
In contrast Chan-Hyo Bae (b.1975-) is a young Korean photographer whose series Existing in Costume questions his place within British society. Each of his self-portraits depicts Bae in a different historic British costume and the resulting images challenge the viewer's notions of masculinity and British identity. Bae writes that as an Asian man he is invisible to British women and that he has no means of understanding the history and culture in which he finds himself living. He is shown holding traditional Korean objects, which exaggerate the differences between the sitter and his costume even further.
Ben Uri, The London Jewish Museum of Art Website