Welcome To Art History For Dreamers
< a decolonial art school | www.decolonizetheart.world >
☁️ Decolonize The Art World believes in imagination as Prophecy ☁️
It’s not as simple as bringing more black and brown people into the museum, but asking why we weren’t there in the first place? There could definitely be more but there are no shortage of inventive Black art workers, artists, and community cultural production - We deserve more than assimilating into the current museum-industrial complex. Rather, after decades worth of violence, erasure, and being embedded in colonialism, this future is one where the museum has de-centralized by redistributing funding into those alternatives contextually relevant models - Let’s get into that - the how, why, and what other possibilities exist.
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Unless otherwise stated or sourced, writing by Yaa Addae ([email protected]).
Rotten Roots, New Seeds, Healthy Plant :
“You can’t cure or “revive” a plant if the roots are dead+ rotten. The only solution is to pull out the whole thing, treat the soil, +plant a healthy new seed.”
-Gabby Duran (@GBDRN)
The British Museum, originating in the 18th century came out of Hans Sloane’s private collection- when he died in 1753, “he set up his will to ask the British Parliament to buy his collection for £20,000 and set up a public museum that anybody, whether they were British or from outside Britain, would be able to enter free of charge. Of course, what they had in mind at the time was mainly dignitaries and foreign scholars from other parts of Europe.Curators didn’t like the idea that lower orders of society were going to come in and get their hands on the collections. They had a great deal of class anxiety and believed learning was a genteel privilege. It took a long time into the 19th and even 20th century to accept that.” - James Delbourgo
Narrative rewriting and acknowledging the past alone cannot fix this- you cannot curate or juxtapose your way out of centuries worth of violence.
This morning, New York-based Activation residency exploring healing, justice and reimagining intimate gathering + a year round co-op fund surpassed their goal of 50,000 dollars. Artist @annapakart sold her work in an online auction for $25K, which her gallery, @rosskramergallery matched and donated to resistance as respite.
I cannot fully describe the immense joy I feel to witness the realisation of another black queer dreamer’s vision realised. Congratulations to @activationresidency for raising enough to not only care for 50 frontline responders over 5 consecutive weekends, but move closer towards buying land to sustain this work for years to come.
Imagine if the British Museum and its counterparts redistributed the wealth they built on slavery and colonialism into Black Cultural Organisations+ Community Conservation Programmes? Imagine if profiting off of Black creativity meant actively pouring that back into the respective creative ecosystems. Imagine not having to prove yourself worthy of resources that are yours?
This is the work of restoration- not restitution, not a loan, not annotated labelling and DEFINITELY not slapping us in the face by selling stolen ancestral art on the secondary market(Reference -Image: 4, but let’s get into the auctionhouses + commercial galleries on another day).
You’re just not the it girl you used to be- and denying that instead of more contextual, community specific art engagement -is tired.
A central part of decolonize the art world is demystifying the moving parts of these world(s). The lack of transparency about power in the art world not only reinforces its status quo, but encourages gatekeepers. The shift required is so much more than hiring decisions, institutions as a whole are deeply embedded in recreating the dynamics they were born of, yet try and move like Miley Cyrus ‘transforming’ into Hannah Montana- same thing, and we can tell.
Perhaps that’s what I’m doing here. In Ghana. Trying to escape my life… perhaps trying to chase a life that escaped and still escapes me. Anyway hunter or hunted, pursuer or pursued, here I am in Afronet. That’s the ever- so- cool name of the internet cafe. So many resonances there that connect with African cultures that, at their foundation, work on principles of connectivity and breaking (dance); synapse jumping and colliding; bouncing off this, riffing on that, picking up stuff here and leaving it there. Like jazz, I mean. Or Negro music as Ellington wanted to call it.
-Nourbese M Philip
"Queerness is that thing thats lets us know that this world is not enough" - José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
"Cybernetics comes from the Greek root kubernetes, meaning pilot or helmsman, and was first used by Plato in his dialogues on Laws and The Republic to denote a governor of a country. In the 1940s, cybernetics was given its current meaning by Norbert Wiener in his 1948 book Cybernetics, Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. According to Weiner, at a basic level, cybernetics refers to “the set of problems centred about communication, control and statistical mechanics, whether in the machine or in living tissue”. Wiener’s concept was that the behaviour of all organisms, machines and other physical systems is controlled by their communication structures, both within themselves and with their environment. The result of this book was that the notion of feedback penetrated almost every aspect of technical culture. Early influential cyberneticians working in Britain include W Ross Ashby, Stafford Beer, W Grey Walter, Frank H George and Gordon Pask. Pask’s interactive cybernetic work Colloquy of Mobiles was exhibited at CS. This large-scale reactive and educable sculptural installation is now seen as a precursor to human-machine interaction. Cybernetics, the study of how machine, social and biological systems behave, offered a means of constructing a framework for art production in which artists could consider new technologies and their impact on life." - Catherine Mason
Relating to the capitalist construction of the artist individual:
"Being an artist, you hear a lot of talk about genius — which is the process of singling out certain people in art history and saying, ‘Those were the important ones.’ … Whenever you look at any of those artists, you find that they lived and drew from a very active, flourishing cultural scene, and they were only one of the elements in that scene. All these people who are called ‘genius’ actually sat in the middle of something that I call ‘scenius.’ Just as genius is the creative intelligence of an individual, ‘scenius’ is the creative intelligence of a community." - Brian Eno
Ease at whose expense? What does pleasure obscure? (Chocolate, sugar, gold, silk + colonialism) What are regenerative forms of joy? (Urban farming, community care, carnaval, festival, ancestral veneration+performance...
human who is considered human, archaic human, black people de-humanized. human as a tool of control/imperialism- post human, rethink how we contend with life:
readings : unsettling the coloniality of being/power/truth/freedom,” and “no humans involved” by sylvia wynter and reading them alongside black power by kwame ture and charles hamilton. also the intro to becoming human by zakiyyah jackson
slave: a sentient body made available to gratuitous violence, through natal alienation + general dishonor, rendering them fleshly commodity and ontologically plastic.
human: a self-possessed, self-sovereign, auto-poetic ethnoclass of species w/ immanent ethical-global concern.