one too many pies for me

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.

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White People: Shut Up About Beyoncé

Bitter Gertrude

After the release of her game-changing, brilliant video, Formation, and the stir her Superbowl halftime show caused with dancers dressed like Black Panthers, Beyoncé is blowing up everyone’s feeds everywhere. And one thing I am shocked/notshocked to see is white outrage about both.

Let me begin by saying that I’m not a Beyoncé fan. I’m not a fan of any of the pop divas. I don’t have anything against them; it’s just not music that interests me. So Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Madonna, Mariah, Adele, I apologize, but I’m sure you and your massive success could not possibly care less that I would rather be listening to punk or classical. The only reason I’m pointing this out is to make sure you know I’m not a Beyoncé fan. This is not about defending a beloved star.

Let me tell you what it IS about.

The vast majority of Black people…

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a male gaze (read: hollywood)

The first time I had heard of the male gaze was in my A-Level Media Studies class, where we analysed footage of tv shows, films and other visual media. Since then i’ve been very much so familiar with the concept and could recognise it in almost every type of media I consumed: nearly all the films, music videos, manga, even music.

The choice of objectification was always a woman, always a woman on a pedestal. J. Berger’s famous phrase: men act, women appear, was always applicable. And I realised it was there but never took a huge effort to be angry about it or question why it did this?

The Oppositional Gaze (Hooks, 1992) was interesting to read because it allows a new way of thinking to occur while I (still) consume similar media. Hooks talks about the black female spectator/moviegoer having to let go of being critical to enjoy watching films.

The experience of the cinema, being in the dark to forget their appearance and instead take on that of the white woman’s position. Cinema makes us envy whiteness, that our lives will never be as good as that of the white man’s.

This does cross into race, but the two do often go very much hand in hand, and are so linked that they are often the cause of the other.

it’s hard out here for (someone usually)

Lily Allen’s video for ‘Hard Out Here’ is personally not very shocking. It’s something which i am desensitised to and doesn’t phase my thinking towards it (this is probably a bad thing, but it still doesn’t phase my analysis of the work).

Overall the intended message is something along the lines of pointing out the flaws with the music industry and the fact it’s harder if you don’t fit the mould of (in Allen’s case) being skinny and doing what you’re told.

The language in the song itself is crude, but it deals with you’re personal experience with the word Bitch.

But there is an issue with the music video itself. Her use of black female background dancers and the specific pinpoint on hip-hop music videos.

Bitch and it’s connotations

Allen’s use of the word repeatedly in the video is used in the sense that she reclaims it. Though it’s predominant use as an insult, it can also become devoid of meaning. It shouldn’t affect you if someone wishes to demean you because they’ve found one word in the dictionary.

See Nicki Minaj – Being called a bitch because she’s bossy (read: knows what she wants)

It’s negative in the sense that she’s speaking for herself and essentially the only person who knows this is herself and therefore those associated with the music video (and to an extent the music industry) it becomes something synonymous. see below:

a:“Oh i’m going to go into the music industry”

b:“oh it’s hard out there for a bitch”

a:”okay…?”

Nussbaum’s objectification checklist

Instrumentaliy – the use of black women as dancers in the background. Although she uses them to stick to a stereotypical hip hop music video

Reduction to body – the dancers are essentially reduced to their body, the fact that their breasts and bums are highlighted so much in the music video.

Silencing: The dancers do lack the chance to speak, the only voice heard here is that of Allen’s, the rest are just doing what they’re told.

There’s a hierarchy to how things play out in the video. Allen, a white female, and the dancers, black females. Allen as the lead singer, the dancers are background objects. Allen uses them as accessories in the video, they are exchangeable with other paraphernalia.