SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER | Tate Modern | 12 July – 22 October 2017
Amazing as this show is, and having actually bumped into the great artist himself Wadsworth Jerrell, as we purchased our tickets for the
‘Soul Of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power’ exhibition at the Tate. My good friend, who is currently suffering from what is classified as terminal cancer, recognised Wadsworth who was so chilled out and actually waited for us to join him for a personal tour of the exhibition. We started with the Entrance rich with Iconic design and a powerful statement. A series of monitors, displaying several iconic film footages of America’s black revolutionaries making their most recognized speeches; Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, Angela Davies, Hughie P Newton Malcolm X, etc. I sat with my partner and observed the spectacle as people cue to listen to the truths being spoken from the past to the future. After some time, I started to feel a little pain in my chest, a throbbing in my temple, as my temperature seemed to get warm all of a sudden. I was not ill, and was really looking forward to viewing this show and being inspired.
The show is of great significance, especially as I was standing with one of the original legendary artist himself. Yet I felt this strange energy come over me, which as usual, I have to always listen to! So what was it that had me so bent over, and feeling twisted? Why was I not just content to just be impressed, which I certainly was? Then it came to me, and I took my sweet quiet time to process these thoughts.
For most of my life, all I can ever remember is that anything regarding Black revolution was always associated to the USA.. Let me correct that statement. Everything via the Mainstream was. I then had to reflect on the amazing fete these artists had managed to overcome, and wondered who was behind them, how did this actually happen, and how can we here in the UK equally illustrate our revolution, as a collective. Where was our Black Power Arts revolution? How is it that we are somewhat being overshadowed by the pains from the USA, without acknowledging the pains in my own back yard.
Instantly I realised that there is some serious alignment, as we have underestimated the scope to which the black artists here in the UK have to perform. On further conversation with Mr Wodsworth Jerrell, he asked me why are we here in the UK, and I responded without thinking, that we are here all working our asses to get the hell back out!! It was then I realised that these words have not come from my mouth for quite some time… He smiled with a little surprise, and was like for real?
The Black image has been hijacked, just like the way Hip-Hop have been in the USA.. The void of what was happening in 1963, till now is a crying shame. I want to reach out to those incredible Curators, those galleries, those events teams, to really consider their role within the arts fraternity. I think it is time for a call and response, to either be embraced or just do it alone, as we have been all these years! The key still remains the same. Integrity, commitment, passion, spirit, vision, community connected, empathy, value, worth, and the power of conviction. Saying this the show really sparked the fire inside of me, as I realised that it was our time, and the negotiation with the white supremacy here in the UK had to now cease. The time was now to turn it up, to pump up the jam. It was my moment to acknowledge that we are The Present – the gift for the future.
I highly recommend this amazing show, as it stirred up so many mixed emotions, whilst illustrating that the artist still has a very important role to serve its community, the Human community. As they reflect their experiences, when other may have chosen to remain quiet. To put truth of these expressions up to the so called power that is. White supremacy has a guilty past, which I call White fear! After all these years, this fear has grown even more distinctive, due to a culture living in denial, as they cognitively and somewhat instinctively seem to be trying to repeat the behaviour of the past.
The issue is the system, that grants you access to the industries, to achieve greater success, the game has been rigged, and it favours those who are not challenging the ideas of the society, even if these ideas are not constructive, or conducive to one’s health or spiritual well being. The notion of self-motivation and community self-interest breaks down due to lack of economics, or social engineering. As an artist I have no choice but to express my vision and channel what others may be able to repress. Soul Of A Nation, serves as a remarkable reminder of the importance to remain resolute on the road least travelled.
It represented what it means to not conform, to remain tue to our unique perspective, and not be colonised or accept being treated as sub-humans. It also illustrated the cultural currency of the collective movement, and as a testimony time itself, as this show is still seem as one of the most important exhibitions the Tate have hosted. The numbers never lie, as the saying goes. Well my departing conversation with Wadsworth Jerrell was that we hare in the UK shall answer to their Call, as our unique response, as a cultural currency of respect and homage to declare the hidden dynamics of institutional racism, passive aggression, the cause of so much mental illness, as once more the Arts community being the final faculty, which has much to say to the world.
I would like to say a big thank you to the amazing Curator, who helped to bring this show to the Tate, and further more, would love to meet and discuss How we can compare our journey in these times. An uncensored response to a very powerful assessment, where the creative express without apologising for their truest creative expressions..
To all those great artist that totally represented and delivered such an amazing impactful show, which conveyed such a collection of individual and social dialogue, transcending time itself. The no limitation of conformity, including metaphysical elements abstract art, installations, AVI, along with some amazing paintings and photography. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice, and hard effort to deliver, from your first trip to FESTAC Nigeria 1963 to The Tate of today!! Real warriors work in silence, as most artist have done throughout the decades.. I thank you for sharing this beautiful artistic narrative seen from the Black perspective.
“So what would it now look like in 2017, if we were to represent; Art In The Age of The UK Black Empowered?”
To be continued..