Work on paper
In the series Les Eclaireurs (The pioneers) 8 famous Northern Pioneers of the USA are portrayed on paper by slicing their faces open with a scalpel knife and pasted images and stories of black people and Native Indians and their stolen land into the open ‘wounds’ This deed of mutilation stands symbol for a transformative action of re-creating images of dominance. This creating of counter- images is an attempt of getting the story of the marginalized peoples of the USA straight. “Cause if we don’t get the story straight our noses will be blown off” Erykah Badu in The Black power mix tapes
The dream of a thousand shipwrecks
The dream of a thousand shipwrecks and consists of several chapters. In this chapter several history and scientific books about explorers, anthropology, biology, pre-historical men are cut into pieces and rearranged in a new illogical sequence. They are intertwined with two texts of Shakespeare. Both text and images get a different meaning and context.
Note: variable sizes mixed media on pages of books, 12/44
We Refuse… is an ongoing series which started in 2009, in which the artist uses old history and anthropological books; taking these books as a medium for cut-outs, collages and texts. Through her work she changes the meaning of the content from a Western colonial perspective quite drastically into the perspective of a black person.
“On high school my history teacher told us to skip the pages in our books concerning the Dutch participation in slavery. This violent act of neglecting a part of my history and that of my ancestors has become one of the common threads in my work. For years I collect old history books, cross out the text and cut holes in images. Looking through the holes is like looking through history. One sees that somehow everything is connected.
In his essay ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’ Stuart Hall emphasizes that we can properly understand the traumatic character of the colonial experience by recognizing the connection between domination and representation. ‘They had the power to make us see and experience ourselves as Other of a dominant discourse.’
I am fascinated by the complexity of the meaning of blakness* in a West-European society. In that sense, when Foucault says that the soul is the prison of the body, I strongly feel that looked upon as a blak woman, being and feeling blak as a social and cultural sign is not enough and is a limitation of who I truly consider myself to be, namely in a constant state of becoming. When the body is not merely a substance but a variable boundary, a surface of which it’s impenetrability is politically regulated and is signified within the cultural domain of race and hierarchy, which language remains to give meaning to a physical determination of race in relation to the soul, signifying one’s appearance; that would be the language of my imagination.
*The C in Blak should be banned, because it also stands as a symbol for a colonial thought. Why do we need a C in Black while in the pronunciation we cannot hear it?? Blak to me symbolizes a political movement open for every person who is willing to liberate him/her self by joining the revolution of the blak community. They should destroy themselves and be born again as beautiful blak persons” – Patricia Kaersenhout
Note: Installation view at 2 Unlimited, De Appel, Amsterdam in 2018 Photo: Konstantin Guz