So, today I came clean about my heritage
In an encouraging message I got the other day, it said that they couldn’t think of nothing better than “someone like me” doing well. Which in all honesty made my day (or my month) because I respect this person in all totality. But then, in my born-into me skepticism… I was forced to wonder what “Someone like me” is. Who is someone like me? Is that stupid? Someone who tries but doesn’t quite get there. Someone working class etc. It’s a typical Smizz thing to do to turn a possiitive into a negative. But It really has got me thinking.
Who is someone like me? For real.
We have these what I like to call ‘elitest’ meetings (makes me feel proper special – all Art&Language without the conceptual nature. ) There’s a select few of us who attend: 4 second years (including myself), 2 MA students, 1 first year and 1 Lecture/’Real’ Artist- out of office hours.
We have come to use the empty spaces that the Artworld, and its institutions such as Artschool running as a business, provides. How the plausibility of revolution, the classist view- the actual making and love of what we do as artists – is somewhat missing – in the marketisation of the gallerist and collectors etc.
We encouraged each of us to create a somewhat ‘virtual’ artist of what we would like to see in the artworld. Perhaps a projection on what we would like to be. Or create – or have in the future.
Mine came to me as a Colombian workin’ class kid, who was lucky enough to secure a scholarship at New York City Visual Arts under Kosuth (we can time travel) and they rented a place on the Lower Eastside and was part of the PAD/D movements. to put it in a nutshell.
Then I came out with it, when questioned. I’ve never openly admitted it; although we sometimes joke in passing judgements. But I’ve never EVER felt British/English or White. I’m not sure where I fit; but i feel more black African American. mainly because of my upbringing.
Exploited, repressed, poverty stricken, culture fed by myself which is just movies, American sit-coms and hip-hop music. (That’s not me sayin – that’s what every Black African American does- because clearly it’s not. Nor am I suggesting I feel the pain of 2,000 years of slavery and still have racial abuse) but there are parrells in Working class society within a middle class structure.
Growin’ up I struggled really hard to find out what suited me. Domestic violence; alcoholism; (there’s more) I know how to make a ketchup sandwich last all day. I was bullied real bad in Junior school because I couldn’t afford Nike sneakers. And cuz I loved drawing. I’ve been classed as mentally retarded / having learning disabilities twice!!
Then in Highschool I turned all Chavvy in order to fit in. Shop lifted- gettin’ drunk in the park on White Lightening- becoming a DJ – attempted 2 make cool music videos – gettin’; int nightclubs before was necessary – didn’t try at school because it was the uncool thing to do. All the time I knew it wasn’t me. This ain’t who I am. But it’s what becomes of the majority of people where I come from.
this was all in about a year of hittin teen-dom. Then I got lucky – and a science teacher saw some potential in me, and got me off the dodgy road and helped me on the straight on. I feel honoured that I can pin point the moment. AND That some1 took a chance on “someone like me.”
That’s when I discovered graffiti – art – hip-hop- movies – Marxism- all this./ I educated myself. And everything felt right. I felt accepted. It felt like me. This was me. tHIS IS ME.
I ain’t denying my roots no more – I dunno where they are from – some are Irish; some are Polish the others i don’t know. But I know, I ain’t white. My culture and identity is fragmented from my oppressors who have stood before my ancestors before me.
And you know what, it felt good to say it out aloud- seriously. It sounds ridicolus. People think I put it on; but this is really how I have created myself from a young age and it feels right.