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Bazaar: South Asian Arts Magazine (1987–92)

Research Lunch – Alina Khakoo

  • 20 January 2023
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • Paul Mellon Centre

This paper will explore Bazaar: South Asian Arts Magazine (1987–92) as a site of South Asian artistic worldmaking in Britain in the long 1980s. I will give an account of the magazine’s history, including its initiation by the West London South Asian Arts Forum (SAAF) and the ambivalent relationship with public funding bodies which sustained it but also led to its eventual demise. The paper will first consider Bazaar’s engagement with debates on the politics of representation, arguing that its distinctively large, lavish format, and its editorial mission of offering a panoramic representation of South Asian arts activity in Britain and transnationally, sought to redress the occlusion of South Asian cultural practices in mainstream art periodicals. I will then explore how Bazaar originated in SAAF’s newsletter, and consider how the contrast between a newsletter and a magazine can help us to define more clearly the specificity of the latter form, which is an ongoing discussion in periodical studies and art historical enquiries into art publishing. I propose that Bazaar was a composite magazine-newsletter, which strategically adopted the luxurious, durable, popular qualities of a magazine, while retaining the radical political register of a grassroots newsletter. The final section of this paper will explore how Bazaar magazine used the metaphor of the bazaar to inform its collectivised production and distribution logic, while also serving as a figure for its affective intensity. Bazaar invites us to consider the affinities between the bazaar and the magazine as forms, both historically due to their simultaneous emergence in Britain in the nineteenth century, and conceptually due to their common structure, which is both heterogenous and unified. This paper draws from extensive archival research and close reading to elucidate Bazaar’s aesthetic, political and theoretical significance, thereby contributing to periodical studies in histories of post-1968 British art and postcolonial studies.

Listing image caption: Bazaar: South Asian Arts Magazine covers. Collection University of Cambridge Library / Image courtesy of Alina Khakoo

About the speaker

  • Head and shoulders portrait of Alina Khakoo

    Alina Khakoo is a PhD researcher at the University of Cambridge where she also teaches. Her thesis looks at South Asian diasporic artmaking in 1980s Britain, across the contexts of art education, art publishing, archives and the display of art, thinking through concepts of groupwork, DIY artmaking and the relations between aesthetics and politics. She has also worked as a curatorial assistant at Kettle’s Yard and is currently a library volunteer at Tate where she works with the Panchayat Special Collection.