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Kemi Craig (author)
Emily Carr University of Art and Design Graduate studies (Degree granting institution)
The stories ghosts tell
BiopoliticsBlacks--race identityArt and motion pictures
In order to justify continual violence, inequitable distributions of power as well as hierarchical states of being, a carving of bodies has been perpetrated. Bodily constructions and delineations of human, nature, gender, race, sexuality, class and the notion of identity itself have confined ‘Beings’ as materials and resources to be extracted and destroyed. In the North American context of being marked Black female, I want to understand how I can survive and transcend these forces that operate internally and externally. The method through which my investigation takes shape borrows from Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism imagines a space where the African Diaspora is a thriving, empowered, regenerating positionality in parallel with other peoples. Within its discourses there are two streams which I take up in my art practice that I believe make this future possible. The first is my graduate thesis installation, which was heavily influenced by hauntology, a concept which recognizes that we are always haunted by the past; and the other, my interim and directed study installations which were informed by biopolitical theory, a body of work which unpacks what it means to be human alongside social constructions of power. Blending past and contemporary filmic devices and materials to investigate contingencies of identity, my intention is to speak from my own peculiarities to point to larger systems in operation. Avery Gordon writes that, “... haunting, unlike trauma by contrast, is distinctive for producing a something-to-be-done.” Through analogue and digital film installations, I trouble notions of ‘past’; and through materials and process, I articulate traumas of blackness and gender as well as demonstrate that these constructions are not fixed, but instead fluid and in constant states of forming and reforming in relation to environmental factors such as era, location, power and control. Afrofuturism calls for a joining of critical and utopian discourses embedded in Afrodiasporic experiences. I act to reframe the past and present narratives to imagine utopias, mapped but not inhibited by race and gender. My aim is not to erase difference, simply to dismantle oppressions legitimized through social constructs that systemically award inferiority or superiority.
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