It occurred to me today, that a little bit, I am depressed today because I would like a day off from Racism.
I think this is fair enough.
So to give this some context, you know I’m making work about race at the moment.
I am making it because I feel like I have to – and that is the only place I am interested in creating work from.
And Racism is what created Race. I think it’s impossible to have one without the other, and unfortunately, one doesn’t make sense without the other. So in exploring and excavating the latter, I am forced to deal with endless confrontations with the former, and the way that I work is to completely immerse myself – so at the moment, everything I read, listen to, watch or visit is concerned with race in some way, and the things that aren’t are still viewed through this lens. It creates, I think, a space in which I am an exposed nerve, at all times. It creates a place in the mind where I am digging deep, without realising it.
Almost everyday, I am reading or hearing something that is changing my world view, quite radically.
It is hard. And wonderful.
There are times when I worry that this work is becoming my identity, but I have to remind myself that this is a chapter in my life, and in my practice – a working through, and that I already have ideas for the next body of work, the next place to go, am already making plans about the steps I would like to take to grow as artist and person (the two are inseparable for me). And that when I get to where I want to get – when it is done, and the work that I need to create is created, I will let it go somewhat, even as I keep a watchful eye – in the same way that I do with fat – and to some extent, with unemployment.
I look at artists of colour that have made work about race and then moved on (though they have done the explorations, and issues of ethnicity and heritage and nationality still sit in their work comfortably(?!), as they sit in the world) and I feel great hope.
I have been thinking a lot lately, about lots of things
– the balance between self care and discipline
– the balance between protecting yourself from the times when you are being oppressed with empathy for the fact that those that may be the source of oppression for you are also hurt and damaged by that system
– how we begin to get better at taking and giving out criticism – ‘If I love you, I must make you concious of things you do not see’ – whiny liberals, who don’t like being criticised, need to get over it. Need to listen, and learn. Through hurt and pain, and anger, and guilt and shame and discomfort and the warm sunny quilt of privilege, listen. LISTEN. I do not make this request as though it is easy. I do not make this request as though I am exempt from it somehow. But that is the work, fam. Get to it.
– the difference between responding to anger and reacting to anger – and how you do the first one safely… one absorbs, contemplates and then creates routes forward, the other deflects and silences, brings movement to a grinding halt.
– balancing my own deep well of anger – the kind Audre writes about in eye to eye – with when cultural tropes of the angry black woman are being used as a weapon
– how to shift away from a focus on self care, to balancing that with mutual love, and caring for brothers and sisters in struggle, and being cared for. So often I hear people say that they are going to take some time for self care… but a) there is a sadness in the fact that that self care has to portioned off as a part of your life, and justified as the only way to continue to struggle, and fight, when actually, acts of self care (like watching TV, having a bath,going for a walk, cooking yourself a meal, being with someone you love) – are just life, don’t need justification. b) rarely do I hear someone say, ‘today I am taking the time to care for x, to be with y, taking the load of z. But perhaps it is that people don’t say that, or don’t feel the need to, or don’t need to justify that so much? But maybe they should.
– Feminista Jones came to London. She spoke about abuse (which really hurt to hear, I really sobbed), she spoke about the difficulty sometimes found within black communities of dealing with mental illness. She claimed mainstream feminism as her own – “I am mainstream feminism! […] I don’t need a seat at your table. My table’s over here, and we have better food. I built the table! I don’t need your scraps […] I’m sick of people saying ‘nobody is talking about these issues’, when I’m talking about them – am I nobody?” She was challenging and comforting all at once. She demanded we do better, but made it clear that she was stood at our side as we did that. This is a space, a position I wish to come from.
– I have been thinking about the mantles that I can take up, about ‘a new imaginary of the black body’ and about the creation of new cultural tropes.
I’m making Race Cards at the moment for Buzz Cut next week, and I think I don’t want to. I am really resistant to the work, because it is hard and draining, it is always hard and draining, and I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I DON’T WANT TO.
I don’t want to.
I don’t want to go into what will be largely a white space and talk about race.
I don’t want to.
I don’t want to reach deep down into myself and ask these questions because it really hurts.
I don’t want to.
Fucking going to through aren’t I mate?
Nothing worth doing, doesn’t hurt, not when it comes to art anyway.
No more for today, though.
My housemate is playing house music really loud in his room, I think I might go in there, punch him in his left kidney and then go back to bed.
(I won’t, violence is really bad, and he’s really lovely, I’ll just knock on his door and look tired and he’ll turn it down without me saying anything because he is v sweet)
Start again tomorrow.