CREASING AND TEARS: Transcending borders and identities
Written by Eria Nsubuga ‘SANE’
An exploratory body of work looking at tearing as an act both of mourning and as pulling apart what causes the tears. Tearing/ shedding tears and tearing/ ripping apart are synonymous with loss, anger, mourning. I delve into the dark world of geo-political dispossession and how to rise above the rage and how to channel ways of crossing boundaries and breaking white glass ceilings imposed on people of black skin and the Ugandan artist in particular. Invisibility as an imposed structure of colonial culture is driving postcolonial rage, indifference and mourning. There are those who pretend that injustices did not happen, or those who do not believe that we can do much about injustice or invisibility and lack of access imposed by a global white structure of privilege, as well as others who have hope that change can happen where partial visibility can be offered partly as reparations by kind white people. There are also some who know that at some point, mourning and shedding of tears must be replaced by tearing that involves ripping apart and restructuring ways that the economy of access can be transcended in black people’s favour, rather than to hope that economic and social mobility will somehow be granted by those who control those variables. We have to choose to make/ create ways of access where we have been excluded by hook or crook. Access is not granted, in my opinion. It is taken. The Ugandan artist will take that access to challenge structures of privilege and exclusion.
The current work presented follows the discussion in postcolonial theory on whether the colonised people in the global South are actually able to speak independently outside the colonial archive and whether they are able to take consistent action to place themselves in new conversations on the validity of colonial projects and slavery as imperatives of the need to civilise, develop or create progress in the world. Chakravorty Spivak's written work ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ led to my work under the theme “Creases and Tears: Transcending borders and identities”.
I employ tropes to discuss exclusion as motivations of ambivalent realities hidden under effects of mutual envy, fear and admiration. ‘Big black penis envy’ is a trope that has developed somewhat unexpectedly out of the social construction of the ‘big black penis’ which was designed to objectify the black man in a disgusting light before white women in the 1850s, a time that was supposedly a time of Western enlightenment. The black men supposedly had penises the size of large beasts and produced as much sperm as whales, probably explaining their sexual prowess as grotesque and undesirable. Instead, the fantasy of the ‘big black penis’ permeated Western thought as secretly desirable and this created envy among white men who were supposedly ‘smaller’ in stature ‘down under’. Slavery and Colonisation have an underlying sexual tension beneath the surface. Fanon discusses it, and on the European streets, this tension between black men and white women drives some nationalist movements or even White supremacy to protect white economic privilege and their women. The post-colonial condition is merely an extension of old problems dressed up under different terminologies. So while subaltern subjecthood is playing out in the socio-political theatre, and access to geographies denied, and different forms of oppression institutionalised, and while tearing and mourning rituals are ongoing, trickster characteristics are needed by the subaltern artist on the margins to create new boundaries of operation in light of failing art institutions in Uganda, and like the Coyote trickster character in the folklore of the Americas, use the trope of the boundary crossing sexual appendage to cross borders and create new platforms of operation and accessibility or the character of Wakaima, to trick the powers that be, foreign or domestic.