Two artists I really admire, Jacob V Joyce and Rudy Lowe, were running a workshop at the CSM library on decolonising drawing this week, so I went along. Jacob did a really interesting presentation about their work which broke down some of the ways art can be used to decolonise, including:
- Reverse anthropology – for example their zine (above) describing and dissecting different types of white liberal
- Reclaiming repressed histories – telling stories that are purposefully ignored such as resistance to slavery, queer precolonial communities etc…
- Afro-futurism – imagining a different past and future. Things like Black Panther fit into this, i.e. what would Africa be like now if colonisation hadn’t happened.
How can we use our art to decolonise rather than embed current racist, imperialist systems? Jacob and Rudy describe the tools of decolonisation as:
- Representation: We need to show people who are not part of the mainstream, not as objectified tokens but as the heroes and tellers of their own narratives
- Research: we need to find out the histories that have been hidden from us and make the visible.
- Weaponise: not just to attack the status quo, although that is important but also to nourish and empower those whose voices need to be lifted up.
After the talks they got us to find images in the library that we wanted to decolonise and each of us made a zine responding to that image. I found the task difficult, but interesting as it forced me to ask myself some complicated questions that I as a white artist, need to be thinking about in all my work (and life in general actually).
This was the image I chose. I think there were a few things that interested me. The whiteness and thinness of the bodies pictured is extreme, almost unreal. The covering up of genitals as androgyny or prudishness? Whose hands? Why are they there? What does the nail varnish do to make these hands more/less threatening? What is being shown and what hidden?
I decided to think about what it means to cover up sex markers, such as genitals in an image and how does the effect vary depending on what kind of hands, and what kind of bodies are being used to do it. So i cut lots of different hands from magazine and placed them on more found cut out bodies:
One image I found that was particularly disturbing was this photoshoot of a father and daughter at a purity ball, so i decided to show it being used to shake heteropatriarchal white supremacy over the cartoon people huddling below.
The final page of my zine was bodies free from the hands and the poisonous rain, I guess as a hopeful note: