21 years old, Art Student, Illustrator, Photographer, Writer, Thinker, Existentialist.

Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Xenophobia =/= Ignorance

Ota Benga and the Worlds Fair


Although nowadays we would consider the exhibition and exploitation of humans in a socially accepted way to be wholly inappropriate, in 1904 it was considered a form of entertainment at the Saint Louis World's Fair. Although there were many exhibits on show at this event I feel that the most shocking and disgraceful was the Human Zoo. After the Spanish-American War the United States gained new territory, such as Guam, the Philippines and Peurto Rico – in order to show their ‘achievements’ they took the people from their homeland in order to place them on display in Human Zoos.

Ota Benga with an orangutan named Dohong at the Bronx Zoo in 1906

These exhibitions were designed to make people think that the white race was superior; many of the world’s leading scientists swore by the anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon’s theory when he said that, "on the whole, the white race has progressed beyond the black race." People left the World’s Fair fascinated by these ‘uncivilised savages’ as they were initially described - it’s hardly giving them the respect, equality and civil rights that the human beings deserve.

I was first aware of the World’s Fair after seeing a documentary telling of the poignant story of the Batwa pygmy Ota Benga and his struggle to secure his own independence and identity within the western world. His harrowing tale is both upsetting and fascinating, from being born in the Belgian Congo he was brought into the public eye and described as being a savage and a primitive human, when in actual fact he was friendly, kind, peaceful and gentle - if anything he was more of a human than the people exhibiting him were.

The lessons we have learned throughout history have taught us that no good has ever come from any of this pseudo-research, just more reasons to oppress and persecute others. We are all human and we all express the same feelings and emotions, therefore we all deserve to be treated equally without fitting into the stereotypical categories that the society we live in has created.

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Christmas Memory

Adam Barsby

People think I’m nosey, I disagree. I just have a keen interest in people and maybe this translates as a bad thing, I consider my work to be very people-orientated. I am influenced by the world around me and what is happening in that world. Celebrities and scandals don’t do it for me I’m afraid; but things that are closer to home, things that are more REAL.

Another artist for whom I have gathered a love is Adam Barsby, his paintings look to be actual moving scenes, from a distance. His portfolio is very varied; it consists of some Dali-esque pieces and some pieces that resemble Paul Klee’s style of work. I personally much prefer his ‘observational’ paintings, things that look like they have taken place. His way of painting is very delicate and neat, his landscapes are stunning and a joy to look at. The characters that he portrays are all individuals and have their own unique personality and purpose. The trees are not all in focus – it is very true to life and what you yourself would expect to see if you were stood in the same position observing people having fun on a snowy day.

Looking at this the feeling I get is a slight chill, the kind you would feel on a cold brisk morning; looking at people enjoying the weather and making the most of the snow is humbling to see, if this were a photo I probably couldn’t give two shits about it, the fact that it’s a painting shows that the artist has considered every minute detail and laboriously breathed life into each character with the intention of making the audience ‘feel’ the image rather than just look at it, give it a passing thought and dismiss it – this painting stays with you.

Catch Me If You Can

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Love, Love, Love


I severely lack the ability to go with the flow. This collaboration project has really took it out of me, at least I gave it a good go and now realise that unless I have at least some say in the matter it won't work in the future. Anyway, The Leeds Debacle said they'll publish some of my stuff again, Raisetheroof have let me get involved to do a mini-exhibition/installation and Ryan Larvin said some really nice things about my work and writing, he seems like a bloody great bloke to be honest.

I purchased a new camera yesterday, it's a purple lomography fisheye, it is absolutely gorgeous and hopefully the pictures I take with it will look good too. I also got a Polaroid book - basically a collection of Polaroid photographs by 200+ artists, the photographs in it are breathtaking I realised some things about myself while looking at them and that's what art is about, challenging perceptions and preconceptions in order to evaluate new ways of thinking and observing the world. The book 'People I've Never Met & Conversations I've Never Had' by Nick White was £12.00 well spent I reckon, it genuinely made me laugh out loud on the train, that is a rarity in itself!

So for the past three days I have been cutting and sticking for this Manifesto, the blisters and boredom were not what I expected, but the results seem to please my collective even if I myself am not bowled over by my endeavors.