I was planning on visiting the Waterloo Arts Center today, on my day free of classes, I did not even factor in that it might be closed due to Veteran’s Day, so as many of the other students in the class, I was not able to see the collection in person. I did however look at the online collection on the WAC website, but that also made it a bit more difficult to complete the scavenger hunt. Although the overall effect of viewing the artwork online is much different than that in person, I still found it to be quite interesting. Due to the fact that I did not actually see the Haitian collection, I am going to discuss the articles we read in class in my blog rather than the WAC.
In class we discussed two articles, Eros & Diaspora by Kobena Mercer and Traces of Ecstasy by Rotimi Fani-Kayode, both of which focused on Fani-Kayode’s work and what it portrays. One of the main topics we discussed in class was racism, how it has been seen throughout generations, but more importantly the new form of racism that is seen today. Racism, or some form of it, is involved in our lives every day, whether we realize it is or not. It may not be as out in the open as it used to be, but regardless, it is still there. We talked in class about how the new form of racism is how we act as if it is not there and ignore it, while that might also be the case, I believe racism in today’s world is something different.
For an example, the first week in our class, we were asked to write down what came to mind when we thought of Africa. Many of the answers involved words such as safaris, masks, dry grasslands, poverty, and even AIDS. This has been very eye-opening to me throughout the entire semester. It is easy for people to simply categorize others and often pre-judge them as well. This to me is the new form of racism. Most people are too quick to judge others based on past thoughts and ideas.
Fani-Kayode states that “an awareness of history has been of fundamental importance in the development of my creativity. The history of Africa and of the Black race has been constantly distorted.” Fani-Kayode has often been seen as an outsider because of his race, origin and sexuality. His work is often homoerotic which has been controversial among viewers. Why are they made uncomfortable? It is often not because of what is actually being depicted in his work, but rather the fact that it is outside of the viewer’s comfort zone. It is easy for someone to quickly become against something when it is different than what they are used to. Fani-Kayode’s art is an example of this. I think that instead of seeing his work in a negative way, we need to open our eyes and realize what it is teaching, or rather showing us.