Mind-meanderings #4 – Bulldozing Art

I am sharing this Facebook post from a choreographer, artist and brilliant thinker friend from Nigeria. It was the passion behind his words that pulled me to do a quick google search about this New Artists Village space he speaks of. I understand why his fury flames.

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FYI – http://www.bellanaija.com/2016/01/artists-protest-as-government-demolishes-artists-village-at-national-arts-theatre/

“On Saturday, the Artists’ Village at the National Arts Theatre was demolished based on orders from the Director of the National Arts Theatre.

The government’s position is that the Village had become a hive for illegal and illicit activities. The artists on the other side dispute that accusation and claim the government has less than pure motives for their actions including possible commercial use of the space versus the current free art space.”

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Collectives of artists create homes that become their sanctuaries, their laboratories, sacred spaces of communing and creating, hubs for innovative and dextrous think-tanking for new worlds through art, pathways of resistance and artistsic bootcamps to decolonise of minds and heal societies are conjured in those homes. The bricks and mortar of these homes hoard memories and songs for the future. They can be gentles spaces. Spaces for fury and tough love when they hold up mirrors to those who oppress the already oppressed in the name of free thought, freedom of expression. Artists are not (and/or should not be) afraid to chastise and be chastised if the integrity of their work has dubiously become a manipulative tool for oppressive, repressive or stagnating status quos. It is rigorous critique that keeps things fresh: let’s keeps it moving. But ultimately, spaces found and nurtured by artists are formidable in their power to inspire and it is those powerful fountain well-springs of inspiration that frighten the status quo.

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Perception, Power and Race in UK Arts – Trailer

What does it mean to be an Artist of colour, an artist on African descent in the UK?

Late 2014, I wrote a blog post in response to the South African theatre-maker Brett Bailey at the height of the UK controversy over his piece, ‘Exhibit B’.

A year later, wanting so much to create something around how black and brown artists are censored in many spaces and at many levels in the process of a piece’s inception to its full production,  I made an explorative film about the  discrepancies and damage being done to the arts in programming an artist like this.

‘Diversity’ and representation are just the tip of the iceberg in the ongoing and stuttering discourse about race and the arts in the UK.

Writer, performance artist, project developer and educator Zena Edwards scratches below the surface to speak about *perception* and its role in the “diversity” conversation in UK arts.
Full video exploration – Wednesday 18th November 2015

Mind Meandering – Mourning Self

rawSocial media can sometimes be such an aggressive confrontational space we often take our passion to market and trade verbal blows in intellectual or all out slanging match style. But what happens when the subject touches a genuninely raw nerve that so distresses that you feel like an open wound.

This happened when Ceil the Lion, lured from the boundaries of a Zimbabwe national park, was shot, beheaded and skinned by a Detroit dentist. Cecil’s killing appeared to be receiving more of an outpouring of outrage and than the murder of Sandra Bland, #SandraBland, a black woman found dead in a cell after being arrested for a tenuous traffic charge.

Memes were posted timelines and pages lambasting those who, whether black or white seemed to have time to mourn and express more outrage for a lion over a black woman. I had posted on Cecil just the day before.Sandra a couple of posts two or three days before.

More often I ignore self-rigtheous finger wagging and “sheeple”  name-calling that masquerades as humorous pokes in the ribs, but this time those memes got under my skin. They were talking about me placing my own life as a sub-creature to a Lion. I had posted regarding the death of this majestic cat as a reflex to the most confusing group of feelings coursing through my body.

2012 and 2013 floored me with death. My Grandmother passed away. 8 months later, my Grandfather passed. Along with 4 men I knew who all took their own lives. One was in their 50’s. 3 of them in their 30’s, early 40’s of which one of them told “Zena makes sure you get your happy and I need you to understand this cos I’m not gonna be around any more next year.”
Grief. And depression – my own and in the context of the  suicides of men in their maturing prime. This was the most intense sense of grief I had ever felt. So intense Continue reading

Mind Meandering #1 – On Storytelling

What started as short blurb with an image for a Facebook post turned into a small project for me – Mind Meanderings.

FB: what’s on your mind? What’s your mood?
Me: …….image*sighs*….

Zena Edwards79
strongly believes #CreativityIsLife #Stories:ReflectionsofCreationWeAre

I often go on and on about Storytelling. Because we live by them.
What we speak, what we *tell* each other (and ourselves) is so much reflected in how we exist in the world and interact with each other.
We can change our worlds (THE World) if we change the stories we tell – murmurings that turn into rumors, that turn into gossip, to lethal propaganda;
nudges of encouragement that turn into affirmations, into mantras into #SoulFood manifesting as acts of kindness and Love.
Everyday we have the potential to change something
through the selection of words *we choose* to string together, making
burdensome chains or bright necklaces of storiesAnthony Mellow.
It’s maze construction.
It’s a kind of math.
It’s problem solving or making.
Its myth, magic and awe inspiring.
We are walking books.

However.
It’s the telling of our stories, to ourselves at least,
where we can begin an internal repair, sustain (restrain where necessary) our very Selves when we see ourselves in the mirror of our own words,
in our own truths unsilenced. image
And even in our despair we can salvage the hero/ine.

We are walking books.
Read You well. Memorize your favourite parts.
Tell You to another, share a truth no other knows.
Even bullshit has its place. Every story serves.
Its how you respond and retell the story that matters.

Walk good across your pages. Let your stumbles and stammers
remain unedited.
Let the author reveal his/her process of creation.
Let the first draft be.
We are walking books, encyclopaedic, epic
Chapters closed (some unfinished, waiting wounds. revisit? edit?)
Brand new pages born everyday…image

Ears and eyes like sharpened pencils
Body, fine tuned antennae
This day, parchment paper.

~Z~

Moved by Facebook…

tumblr_mfnpqqqSZH1qcbk0xo1_400I have stayed away from Facebook over the last few months because it had nothing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my true friends on there and have love for acquaintances, and I like to stay in the loop about the vibrant city I live in called London. But my own purpose as an artist and thinking person seemed to be open to  constant interrogation. Not troll-age (made up word) or criticism but a unpicking of my intentions. I like to think I don’t take these things too seriously but it was wearing on my nerves more than anything. FB used to be place I could go to for debate and info-tussles, intellectual horn-locking and splurges of frivolous merriment. It now seems to be a place where FBers can exercise their anxiety at the paradigm shift the planet is going through. I watched people become more conservative and bigoted. Those who were normally outspoken become more timid, posting flowers and fluffy inspirational quotes that are from others and not from themselves anymore. I’ve  also observed others step up their game with more defiant,  revolutionary quotes. Its a fascinating, ongoing. The UK summer insurrections 2011 illuminated the beginning of this tide turning, for us in the Britain anyway, and was a sure marker that the Con-Dem governments austerity measures had kicked in and people were starting to wriggle in the tight squeeze they’d been cornered into. Everyone.

I have used Facebook also as an artist who wants to have more than the performance persona Continue reading