Yesterday, i was conversing with my BSC bestie Pam and she was letting me express all the feels…i mean ALL THE FEELS. Vulnerability is not a practice that i am very good with; i would rather talk shit, drop some profanity and swagger off before you really know what’s up with me. Yesterday, i cried. i felt seen, heard, and felt. she hugged me and let me word vomit my frustration about the last few weeks of life, i am tired of carrying historical trauma in my flesh, i am tired of being broke as hell, i am tired of havin to rage about the same shit on different bodies, basically i feel exhausted by the system….which is one of the primary functions of coloniality, to leave us feelin to paralyzed to be effective, creative or productive.
Today however, i feel focused and purposeful. i woke up reflecting on some lessons from yesterday. we spoke about the Spectacle as it relates to the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson and the production of various forms of knowledge that have followed it. i cannot honestly communicate the complexity of narratives* in terms of media production, mostly because of my personal social conditions of existence, i recognize that i (sub)consciously exile myself from spaces and that there are spaces i am explicitly denied access too. (*when i use narrative i mean any production of knowledge that is attempting to make sense of the world around it)
from the periphery the spectacle is a tragically beautiful absurdity. it is the production of knowledge that reinforces any facet of coloniality, it is omnipresent, it is something to be hacked, broken open, and openly mocked. i have been meditating on how people i am connected with have been using the channels of digital media to decolonize the production of knowledge, while still acknowledging the hegemonic discourse of events, including the hegemonic discourse that exists within “conscious” spaces.
the uses of memes in the digital space is a form of communication that is easily accessible. we have the ability to communicate our identities-in-politics through text and image, its reductionist as fuck, but nonetheless a highly mobilized form of communication. i participate in this form of communication, sometimes intentionally by reading, processing and occasionally engaging with it. when memes resonate with me, i occasionally retweet, like, etc…in the hopes of sharing my own identities-in-politics with people who occupy the same digital spaces as myself. this participation makes me feel like a superficial ass most of the time, i feel conflicted because its become a meaningful space to communicate knowledge but is still highly problematic and cannot be the only means of communication…more like one facet of an ongoing conversation. Two highly effective uses of this medium in recent memory are the Dream Defenders use in their VISIT FLORIDA campaign and the campaign that use AIPAC’s adverts against them with the #AIPACPride images seen on twitter.
The images i created below came about because of a billboard seen in my community. the original billboard was part of the Missouri department of Tourism advertising campaign. It was an image that said “Enjoy the Show, Enjoy the Freedom” this visual juxtaposition of words and image against the current images of Ferguson seemed too much of a ridiculous spectacle to ignore. i chose to use the language and text of the advertising campaign to underscore the intersection of state control, capitalism, and visual voyeurism. As such, it is the perfect medium to critique and counter concepts of narrative and voyeurism that have emerged as part of the production of knowledge and hyperconsumption which takes place in the digital space.
The complexity of my desire to produce these images was to use them to highlight the violence of coloniality through the spectacle while using other images as a resistance narrative. reclaiming language and understanding the power and purpose of words. how do we define terms like freedom, freedom looks like teaching our communities and children outside of the state mechanisms of control, magic looks like holding space with love in the middle of a militarized zone. i am always ambivalent towards the productions of knowledge i create. i am extremely critical of the works i produce (i only share about 2-3% of the things i create). i want to make sure i am accountable to people, if any photographer whose image i used would like me to remove them from my blog please contact me and i will. i tried to use images that already had a wide circulation (and fell into ‘fair use’ type shit), and did not focus on faces of people, with the exception of when people were using their forms-of-life to occupy the space of state apparatus and violence
edit* i need to extend a huge thank you to my brother Joshua, helping facilitate my understanding of photo editing software. my creation could not have happened without you. big ups and much love fam. also thanks to my partner for keeping me sane and helping me navigate processes.