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The Whole Picture by Alice Procter

$40.00 inc. GST

Full title: The Whole Picture: The colonial story of the art in our museums and why we need to talk about it.

Should museums be made to give back their marbles? Is it even possible to ‘decolonize’ our galleries? Must Rhodes fall?

How to deal with the colonial history of art in museums and monuments in the public realm is a thorny issue that we are only just beginning to address. Alice Procter, creator of the Uncomfortable Art Tours, provides a manual for deconstructing everything you thought you knew about art history and tells the stories that have been left out of the canon.

The Whole Picture is a much-needed provocation to look more critically at the accepted narratives about art, and rethink and disrupt the way we interact with the museums and galleries that display it.

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The book is divided into four chronological sections, named after four different kinds of art space: The Palace, The Classroom, The Memorial and The Playground. Each section tackles the fascinating, enlightening and often shocking stories of a selection of art pieces, including the propaganda painting the East India Company used to justify its rule in India; the tattooed Maori skulls collected as ‘art objects’ by Europeans; and works by contemporary artists who are taking on colonial history in their work and activism today.

“Probing, jargon-free and written with the pace of a detective story… [Procter] dissects western museum culture with such forensic fury that it might be difficult for the reader ever to view those institutions in the same way again. ” Financial Times

‘A smart, accessible and brilliantly structured work that encourages readers to go beyond the grand architecture of cultural institutions and see the problematic colonial histories behind them.’ – Sumaya Kassim

Alice Procter is an historian of material culture and the creator of Uncomfortable Art Tours. She curates exhibitions, organizes events, makes podcasts and writes things under the umbrella of The Exhibitionist. Procter studied at University College London, and her academic work concentrates on the intersections of postcolonial art practice and colonial material culture, settler storytelling, the concept of whiteness in the 18th and 19th centuries, the curation of historical trauma, and myths of national identity. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, the New Statesman, and The Times. She is Australian but grew up in Hong Kong and London.

Published by Octopus, 2020. Format, Hardback, 288 pages.