Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Black Splatter Movement

I came across I book about the month ago and haven’t wanted to take it back to the library. Information is Beautiful by David McCandless, its filled with data from the internet, crunched and formulated into highly aesthetic diagrams. Some of these diagrams and charts utilise figuration, some are abstract – but the the book is also about bringing together seemingly profound and trivial information on the same plane. Now he also wrote an essay on Postmodernism, which is processed web information like the rest of the book. I found it short and succinct and very optimistic (unlike other texts I've tried to read) but not completely na├»ve – if we embrace complexity, diversity and ambiguity there is a danger at arriving at no meaning – he calls it a grey goo.

While participating in the march last week, I was thinking about the temporary nature of collective political identity – I wasn’t going to see those people again but we banded together, under one cause for a moment and then dispersed… I’m jumping now, but I had also attended a talk the week before at INIVA. At some point in questions, the inadequacy of the term ‘Black’; used as broad brush to politically encompass very different ethnic communities was discussed. In a sense that inadequacy is what brought the International Institute of Visual Arts into being.

Anyway they found a way around that one – but in the end my little niece still has to workout whether she is black or brown – that’s a big distinction for a 6 year-old to make. To be honest I've always struggled with never being ‘Black’ enough. I'm working in 'watery' ambiguity but going back to McCandless it might more resemble his meaninglessness goo.


Photo by Oneterry

These days I’m writing really long entries – I lost the courage to post for a while and now I feel like I’m catching up. This is just how it is for now – you’ll just have to bear with me…lol

Now going back a year or so, just before I started this blog, I wrote some epic emails to people I respected, I dunno, I was looking for answers to questions I was afraid to ask in public. At that time Afro Modern had opened at Tate Liverpool, some how I was really frustrated. Obviously this show was related to Liverpool’s part in the black Atlantic story. But I was disappointed in another show talking about the black subject within the context of the Colonial/Postcolonial.

I asked a friend (an academic) could the black subject be discussed in any other terms? Modernism happened in one hemisphere, colonialism happened in another - and that logic simply extended to the ‘Post’ versions of them. Nicolas Bourriaud (I’m told) was attempting to tackle this with his global idea ‘Altermodernism’. But it was met with much scepticism; understandable really, it was at Tate the and exhibition was largely engaged with established representatives from the industry, begging the question – what kind of globalism did the show actually represent?

So anyway the end of my story… my friend encouraged me to speak up. So I am now standing on my virtual soapbox, asking my questions - but I've just realised it’s taken me a whole year to ask the first one.

Friday, 2 December 2011


I was invited to a talk by the Precarious Workers Brigade (PWB), the subject of the talk - service as a vocation, as mission, as a tool. Although I do struggle from time to time with professionalism, I have done a lot of ‘work’ unpaid and on a temporary paid basis – I dunno it intrigued me. Some members of this group existed within the art sector. This Brigade resembled a ‘union’, created in response to the many contradictions and inconsistencies that arise within the sector.

The audience was largely made up of art students, internships was mainly the subject of discussion when put to them. Rich for me to say, but I wasn’t very sympathetic, probably because of that expectation; education = Jobs, because we now have a thriving art sector. PWB is a performative artwork, which has some plastic outcomes (like flyers and leaflets) - but having an effect as a movement? They found difficulty in answering that…

They eloquently put it in a nutshell - it’s a ‘double bind’, those lack of rights and stability are the consequences of the creative freedom we desire.

‘Service’ in relation to the stuff I make, has always been a difficult concept. I make something very specific, it comes from my own head – it’s not particularly an objective process but I dedicate a shitload of time to it. Sometimes there’s overlap - the work touches someone else – maybe they like it, maybe they respond to it, they might even buy it. So in not always being a service or commodity explicitly, what are you left with? How does one continue to enquire and create as an individual committed to (an idea/ideal of) ‘art’? How does one’s activities evolve in relation to circumstances?

What wasn’t spoken about was the idea of labour, since the focus was white-collar work. I’m still preoccupied with blue-collar work, not because it’s a reality right now – but because it’s a notion, which pervades my life; how I interact with people. I’m reading at the moment, but somehow still need the 'feel good factor’ from tangible outcomes.