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Kino Club: My Beautiful Laundrette on August 13

Date and time
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Kino Club: My Beautiful Laundrette on August 13

Yinka Shonibare MBE often cites an early formative experience with a professor that sparked a series of pivotal questions that have shaped his practice for the last 30 years. As a young art student in mid-1980s London, he was confronted with the following question as he was working on a project about perestroika in Russia: “You are African, aren’t you? Why don’t you make authentic African art?” Thus emerged his ongoing examination of identity, stereotypes, representation and the very notion of authenticity. So when the time came to choose a film in keeping with the exhibition Pièces de résistance, I got to thinking about the wider social, cultural, and political contexts in which this professor would ask such a question, and in which his student’s response would emerge and evolve. I searched for a film that portrayed an experience of youth in an increasingly diverse city during a new era of conservatism, capitalism, clashing ideologies, flourishing sub cultures, and emerging identity politics.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), directed by Stephen Frears and written by Hanif Kureishi, is such a film. Straddling comedy and drama, the film is at once an intimate, dream-like portrait of two young men and a candid snapshot of life under Thatcherism. It the story of a young Londoner named Omar, who takes on a small business venture under the supervision of his entrepreneurial uncle, whose perspective on life and the future in England is a far cry from that of Omar’s disillusioned father. Situated at the intersections of race, class, culture and sexuality, My Beautiful Laundrette depicts the tensions surrounding identity formation, relationships, and life choices, shedding light on the protagonist’s ambivalence towards the options, demands, and opportunities that lie before him.

My Beautiful Laundrette will be screened on Thursday, August 13 at 6 PM followed by a short discussion facilitated by DHC/ART Education.

Emily Keenlyside
DHC/ART Education

Photo: Orion Classics

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