There has been quite a bit of an uproar throughout the past year in Great Britain. In terms of the government, the economy, communities - social integration - immigration, and patriotism.
More notably with the riots (riots that evolved in to looting) that spread from London right up the country to other cities such as Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. Some said that the outbreak was predictable and it was only a matter of time before the growing tension and impatience with the British government reached its limit.
What has made me talk about this, as with everything, you take in what your environment gives you, during the period of the riots there were journalist holding brief interviews with the public, and with the people carrying out the looting. During one interview a reporter asks the question to a Salford man in his thirties (who obviously didn’t give two shits about anything and saw it as a keen opportunity to get away with senseless looting) “why have you got to do it?” to which he responded “why? Because you’re letting all the polish, all the ... everyone in our country, letting everyone do our jobs, and we can’t get no jobs.”
A few months later “My Tram Experience” was uploaded on to youtube. A racial outburst by a drunken caucasian woman on a busy South London tram. Through the length of the video she attacks various ethnical minorities in what was some kind of ‘defense’ for her England. “Loads of black people, and loads of fucking Polish”
I guess what has me linking the two videos together and what has triggered some form of response from me is the fact that both if these racially aggravated videos not only attack people of colour who have migrated to this country, not just in our generations but generations before, but it attacks people of Polish decent.
I have quite a few friends here in Manchester, some live in the city centre, others on the outskirts such as Salford, and Droylsden, and through the ones I speak to on this matter they tell me what a racist city it is. The mention the casual demeaning responses they receive when a person detects their accent. Which is incredibly sad, especially as we are now in 2012.
I think subconsciously my mind has been thinking about this quite a bit, and it is not as if I look at these situations through a secondary position and assume I know what it feels like. I am an ethnical minority myself. I have experienced first hand racism in such instances. First hand and second hand racism are very different experiences. Almost like the contrast between sympathy and empathy.
Anyway I had been thinking about this in terms of work form. With the methodology not far off the work of portraits I am doing now. Perhaps with influences from such artist’s as Eija Liisa Ahtila and Elina Brotherus. Then earlier this week reading through the January - February 2012 issue of Freize magazine, I came across Tania Bruguera, an artist involved in a long-term project in New York, called the Immigrant Movement International. A project that doesn’t set out to represent politics but creates political situations.
Bruguera, a Cuban artist who lives and works in Queens, New York defines her work as ‘Behaviour Art’. To which she aims to create art that actively inhabits cultural, political and social power structures, in an attempt to influence, rather than represent, them.
So, like with many things in the artistic world there are artists that have done what you intend to do and you might not know it, however I believe I’m going to continue with this train of thought. It is all still very staggered with no acute ending. Besides we work on different mediums!