[iDC] Re: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity

Ryan Griffis ryan.griffis at gmail.com
Tue Apr 18 19:14:30 EDT 2006

i don't have much to add to a discussion of music, i'm afraid... my  
music history is very limited, but i have some thoughts generally...
a couple of years ago, i had a conversation with an artist friend of  
mine, damali ayo, who was in a show i put together about genetics, and  
she talked about the burden of being assumed a representative of some  
group, in her case African Americans. while the work she makes is often  
about her subjective experience, which includes perceptions of race,  
she resented being expected to bring an authoritative "black  
perspective" to whatever issue, which reinforces the idea of a white  
neutrality. (if you're reading damali, correct me if i'm  
misrepresenting you) of course, this isn't new. As Rasheed Araeen  
"The problem here is that racism in the visual arts is camouflaged, so  
much so that both its perpetrators and its 'victims' are unaware of its  
existence. It is perceived as a benevolent or altruistic act, which is  
supposed to empower those who were once denied power. In fact, it does  
bestow some with a power, but on a highly selective and discriminatory  
basis. When artists from the former colonies arrived in postwar  
Britain, some of them were welcomed and celebrated; but only those who  
were seen to be representing not only something different from what one  
is supposed to do within a modern context but also the cultural roots  
of the countries they originated from."
some other friends of mine in Los Angeles were somewhat troubled by an  
article in the LA TImes a while back about "new Chicano" art for which  
they were interviewed. Despite the main crux of their statements, that  
they weren't "Chicano artists," the article's position was that they  
couldn't be anything but Chicano artists, even if their work didn't  
look/sound "Chicano." Whatever they're making, it doesn't look like 70s  
"Chicano art" so it must be "new Chicano art."
Araeen once wrote about the "coincidental" shift from modernism to pomo  
in art discourse at about the same time that post colonial subjects  
were starting to become engaged in the discourse to a degree that they  
couldn't be ignored any longer. Or as Gerardo Mosquera once wrote (in  
an Art Papers from 1997):
"Key categories such as 'appropriation,' 'postnational,' 'decentering,'  
... have been used in excessively affirmative ways, without significant  
critique of the categories themselves. There is, moreover, an ingenious  
tendency to think of globalization in terms of a trans-territorial  
world of multidirectional contacts. In reality, the connections arise  
from schemata that radiate from axes of power...and under the direction  
of 'self-decentered' centers."
The "Race in Digital Space" series seemed a good starting point, but  
where do we go from there? these are obviously discussions that go well  
beyond the scope of this list, but i think Trebor's right (via Paul's  
original provocation), it has to be restated and reevaluated  
constantly. As someone who has curated some, i'm wondering what other  
people on the list who curate (or have been curated) have to say about  
notions of selecting subjectivities as exemplars and how that is or  
isn't done based on notions of reified beliefs about race and  
authenticity. and, in a larger context, what role does geography play  
in this?

some more reference links for discussion:
Michelle Wright on the "digital divide"
Keith Piper, who always seems conspicuously out of new media discussions
an interview with Renee Green, where she briefly talks about  
technology, and of course, gets asked about the influence of Adrian  
Paul Vanouse, well, for bringing up genetics
an interview with one of my friends who was interviewed in LA as a "new  
chicano artist"
one of damali's projects that most people are probably familiar with

More information about the iDC mailing list