owners of the earth at ICA

also at ICA’s watershed:

“Boston-based artist Stephen Hamilton highlights the generations-long tradition of indigo dyeing in West Africa too often ignored in the accounting of early American history. Included is Hamilton’s painting Owners of the Earth (2020), a richly layered mixed-media work that refers to traditional artforms and philosophies from the Yoruba people in West Africa. The work is accompanied by a description of the unrecognized historical contributions of West Africa to indigo use in the Americas and educational materials depicting indigo dyeing techniques that the artist adopted during his research in southwestern Nigeria. Hamilton brings these histories—referenced in Firelei Baez’s monumental Watershed installation—to life through words, images, and textiles.”

institute of contemporary art in boston

it rained today so spent the entire day at ICA (the institute of contemporary art in boston). took the ferry to the north side of the boston harbor to visit ICA’s watershed – a wonderful gallery space. right now it is housing the work of dominican american artist firelei báez:

“In her largest sculptural installation to date, the artist reimagines the archeological ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace in Haiti as though they were revealed in East Boston after the sea receded from the Watershed floor. The Watershed’s location—in a working shipyard and as a trade site and point of entry and home for immigrants over decades—provides a pivotal point of reference. Báez embeds Sans-Souci within the geological layers of Boston, where histories of revolution and independence are integral to the city’s identity. This site-specific installation will invite visitors to traverse passageways and travel through time, engaging with streams of influence and interconnectedness. The work’s intricately painted architectural surfaces include symbols of healing and resistance, patterning drawn from West African indigo printing traditions (later used in the American South), and sea growths native to Caribbean waters. Báez’s sculpture points to the centuries-long exchanges of ideas and influence between Europe, the African continent, and the Americas.”

A Thin Wall screening in the UK

This is exciting UK friends!

Repost from @ukasianfilmfestival:

To mark @southasianheritagemonth_uk & celebrate both India & Pakistan Independence Day, #reelN & @modernfilmsent are screening documentary film A THIN WALL. Screening to take place from Friday 13th August to Friday 20th August, Geo blocked to the UK only. There will also be an online Q&A that can be accessed with the ticket price. Purchase tickets via the Modern Films website: modernfilms.com/athinwall.

Event organised by ReelN Ltd @aman_kdhillon and supported by UKAFF.

A THIN WALL (2015)
Duration: 65 mins
Director: @mara__ahmed
Co-Producer: @surbhid1

A THIN WALL is a documentary about memory, history and the possibility of reconciliation. It focuses on the Partition of India in 1947, but derives lessons that remain urgently relevant today. Shot on both sides of the border, in India and Pakistan, A THIN WALL is a personal take on Partition rooted in stories passed down from one generation to another. It is written and directed by Mara Ahmed and co-produced by Surbhi Dewan. Both filmmakers are descendants of families torn apart by Partition. The film is also a work of art infused with original animation, music and literary writing.

plymouth breakwater

today walked along plymouth breakwater (it protects plymouth sound/anchorages). not interested in plymouth rock, settler colonial myths, or all the pilgrim museums/statues but enjoyed walking along jenney pond all the way to the grist mill. this area is beautiful no doubt, but the blue lives matter flags are disturbing. the arrival of the colonizers is commemorated endlessly with no mention of the indigenous peoples who lived/live here and own this magnificent land. this historical narrative needs to be corrected. we know better.

On indigeneity

Language is important. It can help us clarify our thinking, by crystallizing ideas and making grounded analysis possible, or it can befuddle, disorient, and completely disengage with reality – not only our own but also that of our human family. I will try to be as clear as possible in this post.

I agree with Mary Adams that it’s good Brighton is being exposed for what it is. I have heard stories about how hard it is for Black kids at the town’s high school and how they’re frequently harassed by police, so I never understood the charms of Brighton’s so-called success with diversity.

It’s unfortunate that this unravelling of the Brighton myth is happening at the expense of Robin Wilt, the only Black woman on their town board. She is being persecuted by a large (and extremely loud) portion of Brighton’s Jewish community for posting a picture with Linda Sarsour and saying the words, “Free Palestine.”
That Linda and Robin are both women of color is no accident. Zionism is a European, ethnonational, Jewish-supremacist ideology. How is it supposed to treat people of color or women for that matter?

Amidst all the brouhaha and surreal accusations, the word “indigeneity” has been thrown around by Robin’s attackers. It’s also incorporated into some of the softer liberal Zionist discourse coming from people who support Robin. So let’s be linguistically precise.

Israel is a settler colony. It is justified by the same kind of self-righteous, racist propaganda as America’s Manifest Destiny, “a phrase coined in 1845 and the idea that the United States is destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent.” At the last Brighton town meeting, one of Robin’s detractors used the words “Gospel-given right” to claim indigeneity to Middle Eastern land. It fits.

Palestinian Jews are indigenous, of course, but the white people ranting against Robin and harassing Palestinian Muslim families in the audience are not. Neither were the founders of Israel. They were white European settlers with generational links to European lands, not Palestine.

What is indigeneity? See this document from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, but here are some ways to understand “indigenous”:

• Self- identification as indigenous peoples at the individual level and accepted by the community as their member.
• Historical continuity with pre-colonial and/or pre-settler societies
• Strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources
• Distinct social, economic or political systems
• Distinct language, culture and beliefs
• Form non-dominant groups of society
• Resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities.

The settlers who moved to Israel cannot claim any of these continuities. Neither can they be called a non-dominant group by any stretch of the imagination. Their military, economic, and political power and privilege are obvious. They (Jews with European ancestry in particular) occupy the highest echelons of an apartheid system where the Palestinians are so savagely oppressed even their food and water are controlled.

From the same UN document: “Indigenous peoples often have much in common with other neglected segments of societies, i.e. lack of political representation and participation, economic marginalization and poverty, lack of access to social services and discrimination. Despite their cultural differences, the diverse indigenous peoples share common problems also related to the protection of their rights. They strive for recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources.” — almost a word for word description of the Palestinian struggle.

To co-opt the word “indigenous” and apply it to colonizers is a stunning bastardization and corruption of language.

If 2,000-year-old connections to land define indigeneity, then we are all indigenous to Africa. But I doubt it means that we can (or should) walk into an African country, move into someone else’s house, and resort to ethnic cleansing and genocide in order to be able to return home.

Let’s be careful and intentional with our words. Otherwise “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength.”