WEEK 5: MAUD SULTER EXHIBITION
The work in Sulter’s exhibition was an intelligent depiction of the conflicting ideas, customs and reality of European and African culture. The simple use of collage and the tactile nature of it makes it evident as to show the fact that these two vast cultures do not go together, no matter how much Eurocentric values try to take over. The titles of the piece go from making some sort of sense, Noir et Blanc I(1993), to nonsensical, Voyage: J’etais en train de choisir une cravate pour sortie aver ma femme(1993), as you progress further into the room. This probably highlights her attitude towards colonialism, and how awkward it has become for the Other to try and be included in Western culture, represented through the placement of the African art objects onto the alpine postcards.
This brings up two points: post-colonialism and diaspora.
The aftermath of colonialism is still felt where I am from, some members feeling that the British were correct in their trying to control the culture and other feel the (true) unjust nature of their ways.
The sense of not belonging comes from my family moving from our homeland, to England (in a weird turn of events). Having a foot here and another in Mauritius is very strange, customs are different, the people are different, the ignorance is pretty much on par though.
I come from Mauritius, a small island off the eastern coast of Madagascar, whose main source of income is tourism. Beautiful gold sandy beaches, crystal clear waters etc. (in another weird turn of events that the country invests in the service industry now).
The country itself only gained independence from the British Empire in 1963, a mere 53 years ago. The country’s occupation from the French and the British is still felt, with the French architecture forming the structure of the capital, Port Louis (the name is being French). The national language is Creole, but the official language is English yet formally everyone speaks French.
Recently the Education department began teaching Creole as a language in primary school(1). A lot were opposed to this, for the language is informal and the fact that it would confuse children even more, not knowing the difference between Creole and French (there is a strong sense of classism embedded in Mauritian culture, to tourists we all just look like integrated races, but Religion plays a big part in society).
Evidently there was more to this, I think. The fact that the government themselves are taking the initiative to move on from the French and British rule by using their language, and continuing to make Creole a more ‘cultured’ language.
If more studies are done toward the language, and more literature is written in the language it is evidently going to evolve. It’s happened with many a languages, and it shouldn’t stop now.
The idea of diaspora and my family moving is the reverse to what my homeland is doing. Moving here from a young age means I’ve assimilated into British (as quintessentially British as north east London can be) culture. I’ve learnt the language, the colloquialism and the gestures, but I will always be an outsider.
In the 9 years, we had lived here I had only been back to Mauritius twice and it was evident how much I had gotten used to England: I had practically forgotten the language. I spoke little and to this day I mainly speak freely with mistakes and misplaced phrases with my family. In front of extended family it’s just greetings, yes or no, I’m good thank you, I’m studying art/drawing(not illustration, there is no point explaining illustration). And though I’ve picked the language back up, I will still be an outsider.
I have too many fingers in too many pies.