Colonialism and the expansion of empires

Photographic Montage I

Iftikhar Dadi (b.1961), 1996
Photo-etched print

Object number 2008.94

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Photographic Montage I

This is one of a series of images by the Pakistani-born artist Iftikhar Dadi, exploring the relationships between transatlantic slavery, the growth of the British Empire and the textile industries in Britain and the Indian subcontinent.

Dadi's work, often created in collaboration with his partner Elizabeth Dadi, comments on the effects of global media and advertising on our understanding of the past. They are particularly concerned with our understanding of the legacies of colonialism and contemporary cultural imperialism. Their work is playful and irreverent, and its content has the power to both seduce and appal at the same time. In this image you can see a piece of Indian fabric juxtaposed against items linked to slavery. In the centre is an instrument of torture - a slave collar. At either side are forms of currency used to trade for slaves – a brass manilla and an ivory ring.

During the 1600s and 1700s, British merchants took fine Indian textiles to Africa, where there was great demand for them. Here they were exchanged for people. This artwork also illustrates other units of exchange, including brass manillas and an ivory ring, all of which were used instead of money in the trading of human beings.

Iftikhar and Elizabeth Dadi live and work in New York.

This information was provided by curators from Gallery Oldham.