I Want To Make Things …

“I want to make things that are beautiful, seductive, formally challenging and culturally meaningful… I‘m also committed to radical social change… Any form of human injustice moves me deeply… the battle against all forms of oppression keeps me focused.”

Carrie Mae Weems

I’ve just sent out the December Studio Notes. I feel it was an epiphany moment for myself. It happened during the process of writing the newsletter that I realised what’s wrong with me. Why I’m experiencing a bit of a funk. And I’m not fighting it either. I’m allowing myself to feel all the feels because that’s what being human is about but also through the process I learn stuff. True.

I’m experiencing a funk at the moment because I’m exhausted. Bone-tired. I thought I’ve been looking after myself and resting when needed etc. However, what I realised today is that it’s not just the physical tiredness I’m experiencing after a busy November of lectures, presentations and workshops. Nah man! I’m also emotionally and psychologically tired because of the type of practice I’ve been doing lately. It’s been focused around agitating, pushing back against the system, white supremacy culture, through anti-racism teaching, anti-blackness rebellions, and holding space for difficult conversations where my blackness is totally exposed. My vulnerabilities have been out there. I realise I’ve experienced re-trigging of trauma and oppressions. And it’s tiring. The work has to be done but back to back gigs of this kind of work is exhausting and at times soul destroying even though I know I’m doing good work at the same time as protecting myself.

But obviously not well enough.

It was already going to happen, but this epiphany has just reinforced my decision to hibernate this winter. To go within and rest and {BE}. I want to fill my pot with readings, books I’m been wanting to read for ages. Writings, my own, for pleasure and seeking beauty within nature and artworks. I’m going back to the beginning in terms of craft and creativity and embracing everything with curiosity and wonder. I’m centring me.

Let me say the again, I’m centring me.

Taking my inspiration from AfroFuturism, I’m centring me and speculating about the future of Blackness. I’m adding my fuel and energy, though rest first and foremost, to me and my creativity. I’m allowing myself the time and space to go with my flow and letting my practice speak for itself.

The message hasn’t changed that we need to burn down white supremacy culture; that we need a revolution. But the delivery will change. I’m using my voice to seduce my audience through my practice.

This isn’t a new thing for me, but it is in the sense of no longer being prepared to do the singing and dancing routine of making white people comfortable around race. I’m realised that a lot of people think that’s it, that’s doing the work for them. Listening to me talk or present or coming along to a workshop, they think that their task is done. Done and dusted, move on.

I want the thorns, the pricks to the conscience and hearts to last long after my disappearance from their view. I want the truths I’ve whispered or shouted into their ears to riddle them with uncomfortableness. If their eyes have been opened to the state of the world, to the system created to keep whiteness superior, then I want them to stay open. That they have no choice but to keep their eyes open and so do something about it. Like I have to be with my lived experience.

My practice can do this, if I give it the time and space to grow and blossom and stick like the barbed sticky burrs from the Pirri Pirr shrubby plant that carries warning signs on Holy Island. These burrs stick and spread, causing a problem which is expensive and time-consuming to eradicate.

As the Carrie Mae Weems’ quote echoes, I want to make things that are beautiful and centre Blackwomen in all our glory for us, not any white gazer saviour, but for us, for myself.

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