im ok i just want to die a lot
sex. art. design. culture. words.
For Nona Faustine the restitution of her sense of wholeness as an African American woman and artist manifests in the guise of a restoration of the past, emphasis on guise. Although we see her marching up the steps of City Hall in Manhattan with nothing on but her white Sunday shoes and a pair of shackles in her left hand…she is not really trying to restore anything. It took me a while to realize it.
Her on-going photography and installation project Reconstructions is precisely that – reconstructions that attempt to replace something that was lost in the history of Blacks in America. This should not be confused with an attempt to relive the past through reenactment. Faustine’s images are more are like markers that indicate a place, an institution, an event or a person so that with her presence on that spot she does not merely remember them for the sake of remembering, she rewrites a new history for them. There on the steps of City Hall’s Renaissance Revival facade that abuts a slave burial ground or standing on her soap box at the intersection of Water and Wall Streets where a market once trafficked in humans, she is the fearless daughter of them all, the new Venus of Willendorf reborn to reconstruct a history, the ultimate act of fecundity.
Faustine easily acknowledges the impossibility of getting at what is essential with this task she has set for herself, because to reconstruct a history is an altogether different action than to restore one. Hers is not an attempt to historicize the present but to re-write the past. She did the research, discovered who bought and sold black slaves in colonial New York, and where, and how they were transported in and out of the city. But there is no Aushwitz or Treblinka for the victims of slavery in America despite the common knowledge that an estimated 10-12 million Africans died in the Middle Passage alone, and countless others succumbed to starvation, physical abuse and disease once on these shores. In a way the images function as memorials that she makes herself, one at a time, with her body, the naked truth of its blackness braced against a cold city, reconstructing a narrative where the enslaved has dignity and is not afraid.
“Tell Me Again”
Tell me again why we should forget
I see that you haven’t forgotten Pearl Harbor yet
Tell me again why you say you can’t
You paid everyone else for their time in the camps
Tell me again why we should ignore
The many times you said “you’re mama’s a whore”
Tell me again why because we fail to see
The reasons you hung all our men from a tree
Tell me again why our history you choked
For chaining us, killing us, suppressing our vote
Tell me again why we should share your terror
Our enemy’s long been who you see in the mirror
Tell me again why you wouldn’t relent
From calling our ancestors niggers and wench
Tell me again why so we’ll understand
And please with a straight face if you think you can
Tell me again why those little girls died
For once tell the truth not another ‘white lie’
Tell me again why now that you live in fear
It’s about time you felt what we felt all those years
Tell me again why because we’re not insane
We know no one’s cornered the market on pain
Tell me again why is it you find?
When you cry your tears they are wet just like mine
Tell me again why, we pray that you tell
Why when we made your heaven you gave us pure hell
Tell me again why what is your excuse
Why you won’t compensate us for all your abuse
Tell me again why because our ancestors need
To hear that you’re sorry for your hate and greed
Tell me again why, why should we forgive
The ones who detest the mere fact that we live
I’ll tell you why if I may be so bold
We have to forgive you to save our own souls.
From the gospel musical “Reaching For Freedom” by Jay Arrington
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I get these lame ass responses each and every time I post on Craigslist. I post to Craigslist when I am bored to tears and feel the need to stir the pot of humanity.
The fact that these people are real men to someone, somewhere, causes me to shed a tear.
☾✰Vintage & Retro✰☽