Whilst thinking though what “Balance” might represent I came across a set of tweets effectively about racism and people’s response to it. The tweet is available here: https://twitter.com/AdrianCJax/status/900182099675811844. In essence, however, it talks about “White Tees” and “Brown Tees” and the response of non-racist white people to racist white people. The conclusion is that the right response is to stand with them, rather than just not oppress. This in turn reminded me of a poem “First they came…” (A poem written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_…) The conclusion is the same. It is not enough to simply not oppress, it is necessary to stand with those who would be oppressed against those who are oppressors.
I wondered how this might be turned into an artwork, especially with the context of my current “Fine Art” consideration. In effect the theme of the work becomes standing with the minority in order to defeat balance the odds and defeat oppression.
I’m not the first person to consider the use of Art to make an anti-racist statement, so the first point of research was to consider how the subject has been approached before. I looked at a fair few images in this process, concentrating particularly the use of print and monotype. The following lists some of the more interesting images and concepts:
- Show Racism the Red Card: http://academytoday.co.uk/Article/oasis-academy-brightstowe-pupils-show-racism-the-red-card. This is actually a lino print showing a single “black and white” face. It addresses the subject of racism well. (…by year 8 artists!)
- This image uses colour well, and focusses on hands: https://goo.gl/images/kcbmsJ
- This page has a very explicit black and white anti-Nazi image: http://nka.gr/content/%CE%B7-%CE%B1%CF%86%CE%AE%CE%B3%CE%B7%CF%83%CE%B7-%CF%84%CE%BF%CF%85-%CF%80%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%AD%CF%81%CE%B1-%E2%80%93-%CE%BC%CE%B5-%CE%B1%CF%86%CE%BF%CF%81%CE%BC%CE%AE-%CF%84%CE%B7%CE%BD-28%CE%B7-%CE%BF%CE%BA%CF%84%CF%89%CE%B2%CF%81%CE%AF%CE%BF%CF%85
- These represent multi-culturalism well in black and white:
- This presents the concept of multicultural harmony well: https://goo.gl/images/6m2t2z
- The following google search shows the breadth of the use of monotypes for anti-racist art: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=anti-racism+art+monotype&prmd=isvn&source=lnms&tbm=isch
Developing an idea…
The narration here is off, but in parallel with the considerations above I was trying to work on my own ideas. The “Tees” story, with its 3+4 defeating 6 translates well into a thumbnail image with brown and white “Tees”.
This could be done highly abstracted with blocks, or as pictures of people wearing T-Shirts. I wanted to bring in the poem as well, and settled on the Nazi’s use of coloured patches to represent different types of prisoner. Hence I’ve added the stars and triangles to the image. The patches were different colours though, so this is leading to a multi-colour prints. I tried to consider how else I might get across the message without using colours, or by limiting the colours in use.
I also tried to think through the representation of the “defeated oppressors.” I decided a reasonable approach would be to have these T-Shirts prone (defeated). By placing the triangles and stars with these pieces the idea would be to provide a clue that these symbols are in their context. Just to emphasise the connection further I decided they should be doing a salute.
Its worth noting the sketches aren’t linear, as I went back and drew over earlier notes. Thus, the shapes on the first sketch were added later… I have the seed of an idea but a way to go to be able to represent it.