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Portrait of Black Britain

Black people in Britain have long been made invisible and overlooked by mainstream society, but appear hyper-visible when drawing the unwarranted attention of the police, for instance. Over the decades there have been numerous initiatives to address this tension between belonging and unbelonging. ‘Portrait of Black Britain’ by Cephas Williams is one of the latest artistic interventions to counter notions of otherness. Williams aims to traverse the country, building up an archive of photos of black people – to render the invisible visible, and to remind the nation that out of many we are one people. It’s an effort that speaks to the idea of inclusivity that was brilliantly illustrated by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. At the novel’s end, the protagonist teases, ‘who knows but that on the lower frequencies I speak for you.’

Photo by Fabio De Paola