As with any photo or any piece artwork, be it public or private, there is a story.
Even for your next social media posts, there is a story behind it.
Be it where you re-shared it from, to how long it took to take the shot, whether it is interpreted as it was intended by its viewer or if the image even tells the “true story”.
Now on first glance, you may think this photo is to do with the current “statue debate” and only exists because of said debate, however, and somewhat ironically I guess, this shot was actually taken in London during one of many Black Lives Matter marches whilst at the same time in Bristol the already controversial statue of “slave-tradesman” Edward Colston was being toppled.
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I’m posting this as an output of my genuine thought process and is not representative of Jiggy Creationz as a business, but my own personal thoughts in trying to navigate the waves of emotion posed by the current incarnation of the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m fully aware that everyone has their own views but I will try to articulate mine here as a Black Man born and living in the UK.
With that said. As an artist, photographer, and creative I know my take on the world is very different to many. I’ve passed many a statue on my travels, but admittedly, if I even register them in my eyesight, I rarely enquire about the story behind the statue. Why was it made, why is the person significant, who made it, when and how? I usually look at the craftsmanship and think about the skill or creative process it took to make it, simply appreciating it’s sculptural qualities.
It’s for this reason that I really like the ‘Roller Skating Girl‘ as seen in my Instagram post. The style, form, and structure of the character seems so strong and free, and being on roller skates meant that is a particular piece by Andre Wallace really connected with me, as I am a roller skater who believes in inner strength and freedom within movement. Who is she?
Now, maybe it’s because I live in the present more than in the past. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say the past doesn’t mean anything. In fact, history fascinates me and I believe in cause and effect, yet at the same time, our past doesn’t define us to the point we cant make a change. I also don’t really idolise, attach my emotions, or hold strong beliefs about material like statues. My attitude is generally, acknowledge it and use it to move forward and grow.
That lead me to ask these questions. How far back do people go to remove, hide, eradicate history? How come my focus isn’t on the ‘takedown’? and for me, this isn’t how I personally ‘stand up’?
I guess my drive and focus isn’t on those statues because I’m too busy trying to be active daily in the conversations I have and the actions I take to try and fight and break down walls for myself, for my family, and for my community.
If I detach the emotion from what statues like that of Edward Colston in Bristol represents, I’m not sure what difference taking the down will actually make to the bigger picture. To me, the money which is now used to relocate statues or even rebrand street names could be used for other things that could go to support the BAME community through business, creative spaces, or even educational programs and resources. If it’s about what it mean’s and represents does that me I should change my names and go on a journey to trace my original African name instead of the names of my slave names?
In order for people to be able to stand up, something must fall down, right? That’s how we get harmony. But does the “taking down” of these monuments have any effect in the dismantling of the systems that hold back people of colour?
What are your thoughts?