Opinion: Abstract art and mythology are key to capturing black life experiences | Opinion


Drexciya, mythology created by the Detroit electronic music duo of the same name, suggests that the babies of enslaved pregnant women thrown overboard in the Atlantic rose effortlessly from their amniotic sacs into the ocean and formed a society. underground, or Black Atlantis.

Although this narrative is a myth, it explores the concept of myth or abstraction used as a representation of the black experience, which is often indescribable to those unfamiliar.

The suspense when a non-black person says something about black people provides an out-of-body experience.

When the resident racist inevitably says something slick, an instinctive sense of collective anger overwhelms me before I’m forced to exercise an unholy level of restraint.

You can’t describe feeling left out of a conversation you’re invited to. It makes as little sense as why I feel left out – momentarily rendering a quarter of my vocabulary unreachable in an attempt to be professional (a false concept played).

The ability to instantly change personalities to one of many different versions that I find acceptable to my peers or colleagues is not something I even think about now. I wasn’t explicitly taught to do this, it just started happening and didn’t stop.

Perhaps the most inexplicable part of it all is how often these instances occur. Each day of class or work on campus features multiple Gideons through an intangible set of rules and restrictions.

When parts of an experience feel unreal, depictions should focus on displaying that unreal feeling rather than creating something “real”. Accurate representation is sometimes necessary, but fails to capture or explain the unfathomable as Drexciya does so well.

“Abstraction has always been like a highway, a clearance slip where I can take whatever I’ve thought of and pile it in,” Adrian Culverson said during a panel of black abstract artists.

This is true of abstraction everywhere, but when it comes to people who have been stripped of their autonomy, essentially playing life by someone else’s rules, this method becomes an unreachable path to freedom. in daily life. Freedom that can be used to accurately represent what is otherwise unrepresented.

The use of abstraction will in no way create representations that are widely understood by black people, nor should it because we are not a monolith.

What abstraction can do is create feelings or spaces that expand beyond what is available to us by living in a world we did not construct, which is what artist Torkwase does Dyson.

Dyson uses abstract designs to create new livable geographies. Geographies that take into account the racially constructed environments in which black people live. The tragedy of the Middle Passage is distant, but not isolated, and modern problems also need their Drexciya.

“From the concrete form of New Orleans’ failing levees to the three 60 x 60 inch squares of concrete sidewalk under Eric Garner, we must be able to interrogate the current infrastructure with new design solutions to environmental conditions. made with our political and material future in mind,” Dyson said.

Whether crafting equitable solutions or rewriting narratives, myths and abstractions should be used by black artists to grapple with the strange idea of ​​almost the whole world, or places impacted by colonialism at least, hating us for our skin color.

And to those who aren’t artists, lie to non-blacks when you feel like it. They probably won’t understand the real things you have to say anyway.

Gideon Fortune is a 21-year-old mass communication specialist from New York, NY, and entertainment editor for The Reveille.

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