Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Angry, White and Proud



WATCH IT NOW:  Angry, White and Proud

Just about to watch something on Channel 4 at 10pm - Angry, White and Proud. I don't imagine this is going to make me feel good in any way whatsoever. At present, there seems so much anger in the world so what to do to dilute these hearts of sheer hatred. I want to bring myself back to 2010 when I wrote these words....

 ********

Today I woke up curious. Serendipity well what does that mean?

My mate Wiki put it like this: “propensity for making accidental fortuitous discoveries”.

Finally, this religious atheist has something to believe in. Human equality but some are more equal than others. Equal human what a goal to go for when all are fighting for division. So let me write you a poem and put down my thoughts to pick myself up.

TEARS OF THE ARTIST

Tears running down my cheeks as
ears and eyes are not seeing or hearing my words.

But all is OK!

It is not our time to be together.
As readers and writers we are all lost.
Obviously you are not ready to receive my words.
My words are not ready to receive your eyes or ears.
And so with my pen and sorrow I write what is written
in front of you NOW…

And I am still, still. So very still.
Still writing. Writing away saying nothing but working
with the letters that have become my only friends.

You pity me and apologise and try your best to comfort me.
You tell me that you are sorry for not reading the words I have written,
but you are not ready to receive or to read a word that I have written.
And with my pen and sorrow I scratch out these words written
in front of you NOW…

But all is OK!

Time belongs to you and you have been on your time, not mine.
We reach for scared prose in times of crisis but you have been too content
and needed not the poetry that I am writing for these are words of comfort
to ease you through your darkest hours and say, "The power of the word is with you!"
It has always been inside of you. Your voice is so important, so speak. Speak out.
Say something too. Worry Not! Shout it out! Shout it out at the top of your voices.
Scream the houses down by the power of your lungs. Howl in the streets and
tell all your thoughts as they are so important to you and to me too, yes me too!
I am with you and you are with me and we are now together. And
together at last we can busy ourselves. Busy ourselves; together at last.

Starting at first to scream of the unjust world we are living in.
Scream of the lies told by others that we have had to listened to.
Scream of the words we have read that were unworthy of our attention.
Scream of the inequality from those without quality have laboured upon us.
To believe. To believe, to believe in ourselves and our ability to be.
Let us rewrite the lies that have been told in his-stories and her-stories.

A...B...C's are our new found friends and we are now controlling them.
We want to rewrite the books so badly written by liars and bruised egos.
Control-freaks of every Nation bragging about sometime-or-other.
Stories proclaiming fact with half-truths and what should of been but wasn't.
Loaded books of confusion with brainwashed forced-fed words ingested.
Once we find those cracks in need of repair we can secure our future united.
We are now together at last. We are together as reader and writer.
At last, we have found each other and finally we have found ourselves.


Joe Pollitt | 19th May 2010

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Slave Monument in the Netherlands

"Clave" by Alex da Silva | Slave Monument in Rotterdam Harbour



Photo by Max Dereta


So much have been happening it is hard to know where to start. Angolan artists in Venice or the lack of the Kenyans? The South Africans in Basel or Alex da Silva in Rotterdam and his unveiling of his beautiful work on slavery for Rotterdam Harbour at the Lloyd Pier. This is a location of Media tycoons who like to inhabit trendy loft apartments in the converted Wharf. The location is exculsive and the ideal spot to have a Slavery Monument. Surprisingly, the house prices have risen since the opening, that must be a first in Europe. The people from Surinam and Cape Verde have, for quite some time, campaigned for a National Slave Day and July 1st is to become the Dutch National Day for Slavery and a Nationwide holiday.
 
On July 1st 1863, exactly 150 years ago, all slaves in Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles were finally granted their freedom, this was 30 years after the British abolished the trade and the Netherlands eventually found their moral compass and followed suit; today, over 80,000 descendents from the Colonial Dutch Caribbean live in the city of Rotterdam, some are the direct descendants, others are related to the contracted workers who replaced the slaves after abolition. Other ethnic groups directly affected by slavery are those originally from the Cape Verdean Islands, off the West Coast of Africa and Rotterdam houses around 23,000 Cape Verdeans, one of which is the artist, Alex de Silva. Over the past year or so, the artist has been in regular contact, feeding in various snippets of news about the project; the on-going struggles of working to tight deadlines with the constant pressure of time and finding the right artisans and craftsmen to construct a monument on this scale and whether or not the different elements would weld together perfectly. What became obvious overtime was Alex’s overriding issue and concern of paying significant homage to the slaves of the past. It has been an honour that Alex has been generous enough to have kept me so up-to-date at all the different stages of his project. With the introduction of his first child, his daughter and the new role of fatherhood, these past two years have seen great personal change in the artist.  This new assignment for his adopted City of Rotterdam is the perfect time to acknowledge his responsibility as an International Artist but also to recognize the importance of the age of slavery and what it means to the black communities around the world. There is a general feeling that the wind has been taken from the sails of those slave-ships. The history stolen and almost rewritten - the evidence must bare the test of time and the black communities must be empowered to record the history correctly. 

Initially, Alex had tried to explain his vision for his commissioned civic statue but it is only now in the latter stages of the project I begin to comprehend the sheer scale of the project and start to understand the seriousness of his undertaking. Made out of a series of welded bright polished steel hand beaten panels, the work stands at 9m high and 5m wide. The work depicts the coming of age for slavery. The beautiful sculptured stainless steel figures look alien in the Rotterdam skyline and the abstract minimal ship blends perfectly with the surrounding architecture. At certain angles the structure becomes almost as abstract as Serra. The work is entitle "Clave", which is a music note used in many Central and South American music. The Clave is central to the Caribbean beat and features in the Salsa, Rumba, Latin Jazz and is the cornerstone of Cuban music in Afro Cuban rhythm. The work reads as much as a dance as it does a sculpture and hits all the right notes, as the figures are so perfectly moulded together and shine majestically in the Rotterdam skyline. Alex de Silva is the ideal choice and certainly the only artist in Rotterdam that could have produced such a majestic and thought provoking monument. The subject matter is truly heartfelt. The effects of slavery are so evident in his country of Cape Verde as it was an important place for the Portuguese to trade African slaves with their European partners. Alex de Silva, himself is Creole, a derivative of the verb criar ("to raise"), which was coined in the 15th century, in the trading and military outposts of Cape Verde; it originally referred to descendants of the Portuguese settlers who were born and "raised" locally. The word then spread to other languages adopted from Portuguese slave traders who supplied most of the slaves to South America throughout the 16th century, so he is the ideal artist for this project.

Slavery is a word that can often be simply thrown away or discarded in some way but in reality this barbaric trade in human life is far more serious than the Jewish Holocaust. The western world needs to snap out of its complacency and mark this horrific inhumanity to its fellowmen and women. To create a monument is a good start but this repugnant trade in human life warrants more magnitude in order to appease those that have been directly or in-directly affected and reflect on those that have gained. Personally, I believe that slavery is a subject that should always remain an open-sore and the best the world can do is to ensure it rarely becomes infected. Alex’s grand project is so spectacular and thankfully has been erected in the perfect location, at the mouth of the estuary leading into Rotterdam harbour. The work acts a beacon for all ships coming into Rotterdam, which is the largest port in Europe being part of the Nieuwe Mass (New Meuse), a channel in the delta formed by the Rhine and Meuse with flows out to the North Sea on one side and into the rivers lead directly into the heart of Europe on the other. These rivers include the industrial Ruhr region. Alex’s work will stand alongside the great work of Russian sculptor, Ossip Zadkine - De Verwoeste Stad “Destroyed City” a statue depicting the horror of the Nazi bombing in 1940, created in 1953. Ossip Zadkine, lived in Paris and was a great influence on the late Senegalese painter, Iba N’Daiye from St. Louis, Senegal but he later moved to Paris with his wife Francine. There are many similarities in Alex’s paintings that seem to note a hint of the African Master, Iba N’Diaye, and their lives slighted echo each other having the duality of the West African mix and European influence and training. Alex studied at the Williem de Kooning Academy of Art and Architecture in Rotterdam in 1999 and a then went to do a  Post graduate in 2000 at Minerva Academy, Groningen in the Netherlands. His new work now becomes as much a part of the cityscape as other world famous artists such as Rodin, Willem de Kooning and the fantastic architect, Rem Koolhaas and his iconic landmarks, which have shaped the modern landscape of Rotterdam.

 
Of recent times there have been calls for Slavery Museums to be designed and constructed in every major port around the world. In August 2007 saw the doors open to the Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England. Slavery Museum By early 2010 Liverpool saw its 1 millionth visitor. The success of this Museum has filtered over the Atlantic to America and considerations and plans are being made of building more monuments to honour the Slaves and start to document the rise of the African throughout the world. It is seen by many that the African Slave built the Modern World. Today maybe a time for real payback as each country involved with the Slave Trade should seriously consider investing and readdressing the issues of slavery. What would be ideal is to witness a real commitment within the private and public purses and funds pouring into the construction of Slave Museums. This will have the positive effect of engaging the black communities throughout the world to participate and be a part of the mapping of a brand new World. This would not only encourage engagement but lead to some genuine access to power, which before now, has been internationally denied. It would also promote a sense of ownership of a specific history but most importantly, it would go some way of creating a fairer global society. Black History should not last for just one month but be more of an annual event, lasting 365 days in the year. By building these Museums they will essentially start to address and engage the young and the restless. The Museums should be places where all the members of the world would want to come as they are dedicated to the rise of the African. Government and private enterprises should make it their civic duty to encourage their students or employees to visit the Museums on a regular basis. Many European countries are facing similar crisis of pockets of society feeling a sense of isolation and detachment and the responsibility lies in thinking laterally and starting to rebuild accordingly. For those interested in the rise of Africa, books should be written and films produced. The subject of slavery could have such a positive impact on those most ignored and become a booming industry and a new inventive economy controlled by the disenfranchised.


A surge of Slave Museums have popped up over the past 5 to 10 years. They seem extremely popular with the public, all of whom want to enjoy an illusionary moment of freedom but who benefits? The purpose of a Slave Museum surely is to empower the Black Communities, but instead they are run by the Establishment. We all know there is money in Slavery but this is perverse psychology. Slave Museums have opened in Cape Town, SA; Liverpool and London, England; in the US there is Washington DC, Memphis, Atlanta, Charleston, Maryland, Baltimore, New Orleans, Alexandria, VA and something here is not adding up. Africans are yet again denied the power of their past as this is all to do with ownership, which has always been denied to black people worldwide, it is as Sir Isaiah Berlin noted, this is a form of what he called “Orientalism”. Those that write the history own the minds of the people. This is
unacceptable in the 21st Century and needs to be reconsidered with some join-up thinking. There needs to be links into the Caribbean to Jamaica, Cuba and Trinidad, to South America to Brazil and Guyana and to Africa to Senegal, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria to Morocco and Egypt. The Abolition of Slavery in Mauritania came in 2007. It would be refreshing to see the Dutch act differently to the US and UK models of Slave Museums.


“The fate of Africa is that after slavery, colonialism, apartheid and neo-liberal globalization is that Africans are not agents of their lives. Definitions, agendas paradigms, and perspectives are still imposed by Europeans and others, who dominate all aspects of the African reality. Thus the image of Africa, the concepts of Africa imposed on the world are those created and controlled by non-African forces. Globalization is therefore not only an imposition of products, but also of ideas and ideals — at the expense of broader human diversity.”


Source: African Holocaust | http://www.africanholocaust.net/ 

Africa is the US and Europe’s best kept secret. These Museums have kept unsurprisingly quiet so that those in the Caribbean and the Continent of Africa are not aware of the honey-pot that they all have their paws imbedded in.  Who are the West trying to empower but those that are already established, this is dirty politics at its worst and hopefully the Netherlands will see the opportunities far clearer, than their international counterparts.

Author: Joe Pollitt
June 2013
Here is the video of the unveiling. Superb.






Monday, 12 January 2015

Ernest Duku



 







Ernest Duku | Et Dieu Crea La Pintade







And God Created the Guinea Fowl



Western ideology is
foreign to most parts of Africa in terms of seeing. Art in Africa is
participatory, it is like the traditional religion of Voodoo/Voodou,
it is the ephemeral for all to enjoy naturally in order to gain a
sense of belonging. The beauty of a leaf, a tree, feathers from a
bird, a footprint of an elephant on red soil or the cheetah’s
majestic coat. Art is everywhere but in the West they have a vulgar
way of caging and monetizing almost everything; be it their zoos,
their water, light and air, even their walks to their workstations
comes at a price. Western art is useless to Africa. It is
alien and destined for deportation in every way. What is claimed as
valuable is nonsense to most. Images on canvases, usually with
factory manufactured oils or acrylics from China are then framed and heralded as
Masterpieces by the academic world in their overpriced, high-walled,
stuffy and archaic Institutions to which they belong. The ideas are
presented perfectly, neatly framed, so too are the minds of the
viewers. To the majority in Africa, these images are not seen
naturally and therefore serve no purpose as Art, for at no point is
there a sense of inclusion. It is more dictatorial with an unhealthy
sense of superiority, often blended with a self-righteous ‘I told
you so’ attitude attached. Art in Africa is a far more collective
affair, a glue for a united community rather than a status symbol or
a blinkered state of mind. The sense of sharing knowledge and giving
the baton over to others is where Art lives but this generosity is
rarely seen in the Art World. we are at a
turning point in the History of African Art and never in history
has there ever been a more important time to address these vital
issues. In the works of Ernest Duku, Africa has a chance to show it's true strength and power.





Early 20th Century Yoruba Divination Board

To begin to understand the concepts
behind the art created from the artist,
Ernest Duku, we must firstly learn about the source of where these ideas originate. In appreciating the artist's cultural background will lead inevitably, to a more comprehensive undestanding of the works. The visual narrative in Duku's work
makes constant reference to his African upbringing and refers to the
ancient practices, which remain pivotal to rural societies within
Cote D'Ivoire. Although the artist, now lives in Paris, he reaps
immense solace in his faith and sacred cognitive heritage, which
makes his art authentically African. The days, months and years are
mapped out through a series of rituals that poignantly speak to the
people living within the villages of West Africa. These indigenous
practises are oral rather than scriptural and are performed outside
in order to worship the grandeur of nature. Triggering the ascend of the spirits with alcoholic libation they call upon the ancestors for reassurance and wisdom.  This practise is rudimentary to most West Africans as they place so much emphasis on the ancestors. This connection to the past yields a
tremendous sense of belonging. The ancestors play a vital role in the
personal and collective guidance to those, here on earth, and
alleviates the crippling loneliness suffered by many in the developed world.
Other major aspects include magic and the extensive knowledge of traditional herbal medicines. These factors are the
necessary keys to unlock the heart of the artist's past
and are fundamental in appreciating his unique works of Art. In
deciphering these primitive nuances we are better equipped in finding
our universal humanity. To those in West Africa the role of humanity is
generally seen as one of harmonising nature with the supernatural via
'divination'; this phrase comes from the Latin divinare, "to
foresee, to be inspired by gods", related to divinus, the
divine. In rural Africa this divination comes in the shape of a
vessel, which is used in the attempt to gain insight into puzzling
social challenges by way of indigenous rituals. Diviners are closely
connected to the earth and the spirits that surround us and once contact has been made are then presented with a series of events, signs and
omens via the supernatural world. These clairvoyant visions or prophet
dreams, which  are bestowed on the witch-doctors can be ambiguous but
always opportune for interpretations. This process is carried
out under a systematic method by which to engineer issues that are
often unexplainable; what appears to be disjointed or random
facets of existence can then be mentally digested with clear
insight on any given problem. These acts have formal or ritualistic
elements attached and are the glue that binds the community together.
Sadly, these practises are  dismissed by the majority in the Western world who
have been made sceptics, many of whom live without
faith or a deeper understanding of the importance of mysticism.



Let us call upon the ancestors to show their force here with us on earth. We maybe many but we come from even greater stock and our full force has yet to be recognised. Far too often we are standing in the shadows, nervous we are not worthy of note but in reality we are what the world is aching for..bored of seeing the utter dribble shown in the name of Modern Art.



What and who are these Saints? These are our ancestors, our great noble past...good and bad.









Let us now focus on the artwork, Et Dieu Crea La Pintade | And God
Created the Guinea Fowl and discuss it's makeup...The idea of art
created with a frame is unnatural for Africa. To be contained in that
framework makes no sense or nonsense to the majority and Ernest is well
aware of these limited parameters..so he's taking his work out of the
frame and making a whole new version of art in his own unique
way..


.

Initially I thought the work was made up of polystyrene, a
material used when learning how to swim and denotes that idea of travel.



That idea of water and immigration and overseas adventures...The idea of learning to float, learning to keep up with the sharks and swim with the fishes but in a good way..The idea of leaving the shallow-end and keeping afloat in the deep-end but the artist assures me that the material is his own invention. He tells me it is a mixture of paper, wood shavings and powder along with other secret materials. He blends them all together and creates a paste that is similar to the white plaster used on North African new builds. The paste is then shaped and left to harden in the sun and then once hardened Ernest then goes to work of shaping out his ideas around the mould with different coloured threds that binds the divination and holds the work together. The flashes of red in this piece denotes the sacrifice created and a Guinea Fowl is a very precious animal to give to the Gods...a prized bird indeed. The guinea fowl are a family of birds in the Galliformes order,
although some authorities include the guinea fowl as a subfamily,
Numidinae, of the family Phasianidae. So why the Guinea Fowl? The speckled hen...what is this bird? Where does
 it come from? The origins are West African and this spectatular bird is
 a symbol of safety in childbirth. The Guinea fowl is prized by
the French…largely ignored by the British and is a bird of legend that
has been used as food for thousands of years.







In the time of the Pharaohs,
2400 B.C. images of the bird were inscribed on the walls of temples and pyramids. The figure takes pride of place on the work and is the central motif and holds the work together as the major theme. Also we see the feet of the bird repeated in the artwork, which depicts luck of a fowl's foot; alongside these feet are different symbols, which are hyroglifics and Nubian signs of Ankh the symbol for eternal life and the staff beside it is to soul-catcher from Eastern and Northern Africa, so the artist pulls from the entire Continent to share his ideas within this work trying to weave a connection into a complex Continent, which is united in similar ideals of creativity, global conciousness and divinity.







Words by Joe Pollitt 2014









Thinking of Ms. Lauryn Hill and she's used a track from The SLITS. Perfect.










Monday, 1 December 2014

ThanksGiving to America Forever


I saw a MTV video on how well the Native Americans are doing in their lands and it made me sad. If you are American be ashamed...be very ashamed. These suicides must stop, this alienation must be addressed and the Money can not always be the main factor in our decision-making process. People are far more important than any resources. Money must come secondary always. Greed is too fast to kill and is the ultimate enemy of the world. Human life is paramount. The most value resource that lies on our planet is the human life. It is precious everywhere. Happy Thanks Giving to all X.

Here is the MTV Video


The highly anticipated untold story about America begins.

I don't want people to think one way is the only way. We are all important in our world. The way we think differently makes us stronger but one rule fits all is nonsense. However you are, however you think, be forever yourself. You are vital to the development of our wider World.

The Greatest Speech Ever by Russell Means:




In response to both, I read my thoughs out like this...