africanah.org

Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Sasha Dees

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Sweet Boys & Butch Girls: activism in (gay) art

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We impose our opinions, our norms and morals onto those others or, even worse, we fight and go to war to basically weep them out or conquer them. Geography, religion, spirituality, traditions, ethnicity, gender, race, sexuality, we human beings have defined many ways to separate ourselves from “the other”. Will we ever actually see, respect and value all that includes humanity? Can art be a tool in this struggle?

Sasha Dees on activism in (gay)art
Abakhaphi at Promise & Gift’s Wedding II, Daveyton, 2013.

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Christopher Cozier

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“The pressure is for you to make yourself available/visible but in that process you become static…fixed… it means you stand in one place in a way that is so tangible that you can easily be bypassed or placed … as opposed to being as mobile as you always have been. It’s a tricky thing. People are saying to you – I want to see you, but this is the lens I have. And then you say: that’s your lens, I don’t know what I have to be to be seen… but I think I want to go there.”

Sasha Dees interviews Christopher Cozier.
That Tree, mixed media on paper, 2012. Courtesy: David Krut Gallery / Artist

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Iris Kensmil

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“In order to find her reflection, culture and history Iris Kensmil followed the footsteps of fellow Dutchmen from Holland to Suriname to America to Ghana and Indonesia and back. She has given us a tangible trail of not only her but our own reflection, culture and history.”

The conclusion of Sasha Dees in her article on the Dutch/Surinamese artist Iris Kensmil.

Iris Kensmil

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BRAZIL: “IT’S COMPLICATED”

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“Contemporary Art even today is still an activity for the elite in Brazil. The elite are a small group of people that descents from and still owns former plantation properties and/or the fruits of that today. Brazil is a class system, 80% poor people, the “one per centers” and a very small middle class. That with a very poor education system makes that only a few can afford to have good private education in and outside of Brazil. The descendents of the enslaved Africans are still the poor people of today in Brazil. This is even more the case if you talk about the 7% black (preto) people”.

Sasha Dees is looking for black artists in Rio de Janeiro.

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Up Hill Down Hall. Marlon Griffith & Hew Locke

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History shows that villages, cities, as well as countries need a diverse population with varied talents and abilities in order to thrive. The work of artists like Griffith and Locke reflect that concept and remind us of the important role that an engaged citizen can play in their community.
Sasha Dees reports from the Tate Modern performances of Marlon Griffith and Hew Locke.

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