Before starting this exercise we had to read The Fact of Blackness by Frantz Fanon from the course reader.
Our first task was to identify Fanon’s key points and how they relate to visual culture. The main points that Fanon’s makes within the article are
- to be black often means to be treated differently, perhaps even like a 3rd class citizen (women being seen as 2nd class citizens to the white middle class man)
- He uses the example of Jews who become “poisoned” by the stereotype of them which then means that they live in fear of how they act as it could be seen to correspond to the stereotype.
- he also mentions how, when he is amongst other black people, there is no problems or issues. However, he must always remain black especially when he is around white people.
In this section of the coursework it says “the non-white artist or writer is still an outsider to some extent and is looked at through different eyes and may be forced to look with different and disconnected eyes”. Within visual culture, I feel that as with women, “non-white” artists are still very much a minority. Within films they always seems to be a “token” black guy, so much so that in spoof movies this is a common joke. They are often shown to conform to a particular stereotype (be of working class, rarely shown as smart or well educated, to have lived in the ghetto) etc. They are rarely the hero and they are usually supporting the main character.
The second part of the exercise required us to find work of Afro-Caribbean, African or Asian artists and annotate them to explain how their work shows or takes on “blackness”.
I chose the work of Faisal Abdu’allah and Yinka Shonibare.
This image is a take on a very famous painting by Leonardo Di Vinci. Within the original painting there are no black people. Abdu’allah has presented the subjects in a very stereotypical manner i.e. one of them is holding a gun and wearing hip hop style clothes. It is almost like a family portrait with the matriarch in the centre.
This image shows the opposite of a typical Victorian image where the white people are waiting on the black person. As it is not something that is usually seen it is quite striking. It is almost like a fantasy of black people being higher in the “hierarchy” then white people and showing them to be exploiting white people as black people were exploited.