Friday, February 22, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
In 1993 I visited an artists’ workshop in
In little more than a hallway of a chop-shop, an assembly-line of men hacked pieces of wood into animal forms such as giraffes and rhinos, eventually smoothing them before finishing them with felt markers. Similar shops made “tribal masks” and other patronising, hackwork kitsch. Sure, I could blame Western buyers and the media culture that made them think such “rustic” feebleries were the best the continent had to offer.
But I had to admit, so long as the supply existed, the demand would not dry up. If someone made money from the stereotype, the stereotype could never die.
Of course, legions of genuine artists from across the Afrikan planet have generated beauty and wonder for millennia, from the sculptors and painters of ancient Nubia and Egypt to the stunning batik-makers of modern Senegal and the CG-imagists of the US.
Throughout the ages, oppression, ironically, been a powerful engine for cultural production; more predictably, oppression often restricts imagination. Afrikans were devolved into negroes in part by being taught to hate their Afrikanity; to overcome the culture of racial self-hatred, many painters fixated on their skin, turning out canvasses milling with featureless all-black figures at village markets, in worship or at play.
Initially exciting for the exaltation of the racially tabooed skin, the project quickly lost momentum due to the limitation of promoting “black” over “Afrikan,” a philosophy and aesthetic which are only skin-deep, or more accurately, skin-shallow.
But not everyone who painted black figures lacked imagination. One in particular was a genius.
In the 1920s and 30s, uptown
One of the finest painters of the era was Aaron Douglas, founder of a style that might best be called Afriluminism.
Most notably, his figures had eyes. They not only were seen; they could see. They were not merely the objects of history, but its makers. Then there were the settings.
From mythic portraits of Afrikan histories to stunning vistas of African futures, Douglas did in painting what the unfolding literature of Afrofuturism did in print: reveal the continuing epic of Afrikans creating civilisation, overcoming oppression, and building new worlds.
Here in E-Town, local Afrikan artists are depicting their own realities at the TU Gallery’s “5 Artists. One Love” exhibition. “I’d never before seen a show that features local Black artists,” says curator and contributor Darren Jordan, whose own work is a saturated vitality of reds, oranges and purples. Deciding he would create the type of show he’d never seen,
“One Love” features the photorealism of Richard Lipscombe, an artist whose family hails from
Acclaimed poet Langston Hughes was correct when he noted that the decision to write a non-political poem during an epoch of oppression was in and of itself a political decision, but so was African-Canadian writer George Elliot Clark when he told me, “Black people have a right to beauty.” The body of Afrikan artists must collectively create works which illuminate the death camps and the pathways out of them, but they must also decant the light of butterfly wings and canyons at sunrise and distant pulsars and the yearnings of the human heart.
5 Artists. One Love * Feb. 2 – March 8
TU Gallery (http://www.tugallery.ca)
10718 - 124
10am to 5pm Tues-Sat.; Thursdays to 8 pm
6 PM Mountain Time
The global economic imbalance of wealth is based on taking the resources away from the many—at the business end of weapons, when necessary—to be given to the very few.
Some of those weapons were pointed 500 years ago; others are being pointed today. Even if the wealthy accumulated their riches through inheritance, if the inheritance accrued from a crime, the crime itself is inherited along with its fruits. There is no moral statute of limitations on the plunders of imperialism.
According to Global Issues.org:
Among the many traps that the world’s poor are in, one of the most needless is that of credit. The poor are generally exhorted to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, without recognising that the poorest of the world have no boots—neither metaphorically nor literally. In order for entrepreneurs to make money, they usually need to borrow money. To borrow money, they need collateral. To gain collateral, they need to have had money already.
One man recognised just how needless and destructive the poverty/credit trap is, and decided to act. His actions not only helped numerous people escape poverty, but achieved international acclaim. That man is economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank. Yunus began in the Indian
Yunus is highly regarded globally, having served on dozens of international committees and commissions. He’s a Director on 15 international boards, the recipient of 29 honourary degrees from universities around the world, and is a member of the South Africa-based Elders Project, convened by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Yunus’s work has been celebrated almost beyond compare. He’s won 15 major international awards, including the 1989 Aga Khan Architecture Award for helping the poor construct 60,000 housing units, the 2000 Gandhi Peace Prize, and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee remarked, “Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.”
Muhammad Yunus is the author of an autobiography, The Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Northgate Senior Lions’ Centre
By MINISTER FAUST
African faces. Some people can’t tell them apart. And others see only the face of African tragic victimhood. Each false vision denies a range of beauty, individuality and hope.
Nelson Mandela, like many South Africans, has features that, hair aside, wouldn’t cause a second glance among many East Asian populations; there are the peoples of the so-called Pygmy nationalities of the central continental rain forest, mostly under 4’11”; there are tall and slender Masai and Ethiopians whose bodies seem designed either for ballet or marathons; and there are the frequently voluptuous peoples of Ghana.
Skin tones vary from the brownish-yellow of non-Arab (ie African) Egyptians to the “blue” black of some Nubians. Shapes and sizes of noses and lips range, hair textures range, body shapes range (and keep in mind that within each of these broad types, variety reigns).
Kamara says minimal help comes from a government still ailing from the civil war, and which is concentrating on urban development. In fact, of 15 teachers for Tamaraneh’s huge student body, six are actually volunteers. Parents are providing food and other basic necessities for the teachers in a country which “was burnt down to pieces” by a rebel force that destroyed livestock and houses, and raped, mutilated and massacred people. Ten years of civil war left 70 000 dead.
On Feb 9, Tamaraneh is hosting its annual “There is Enough!” dinner and development simulation, the proceeds from which will fund their school.
“I know how Sierra Leoneans have suffered,” says Kamara. “And I know Canadians are very, very helpful. Many immigrant Canadians have suffered a lot. They know war; this is why Canadians have sympathetic feelings.”