I go into a tutorial with Mark LeBon and he’s just like, why do you feel you have to tick those boxes?
I was doing my Bachelor in photography and just like at any other examination, you had to fulfill and tick certain boxes of requirement to graduate. I was like What am I doing?, why am I doing this? I wasn’t taking photos anymore, I was doing these installations and looking very much at the interaction and relationship between subject and matter; at the different layers of seeing. At this point I was very much influenced by Nina Power and her “One Dimensional Woman”. She talks about feminism in a very direct way, what feminism is now and how we tear away these layers of each other and again with feminism have started ticking these boxes–you have to be like this or like this. She talks about imagery; how women when photographing women focus on smaller bits and process women as fragments. It is actually kind of a way of breaking down the female gaze.
What am I doing? Why am I doing this?
I feel like I have definitely been influenced, in many ways by the Buffalo scene, I’ve been lucky to have these innovators somehow cross my path in life, whether it has been about being tutored by Mark Lebon during my Bachelor, assisting Mitzi Lorenz and Kate Garner after graduating or having Neneh Cherry in my life. You have to think about what was going on in the 80s in London. A very right wing government led by Margaret Thatcher that didn’t reflect these people’s views, so they decided to basically go fuck it!!, that’s not who we are. They created their own aesthetic, an identity, but more so than that, an attitude. Instead of putting your general supermodel on a front cover they were street casting and using these stunning multiracial kids, putting them on a pedestal and creating this beautiful aesthetic, the photos are all very classically shot in black and white. These people have thankfully somehow influenced me by telling me not to tick boxes, to celebrate the beauty in being multiracial, to see the riches of multiculturalism and not conform to ideas of labeling.
And I feel that somehow my practice reflects that in various layers, whether it is when I do new work or curate others’. I always question and try to understand what brings people together–what cultural and social aspects and what aesthetics create a public. Mostly using sound as the common thread, my work tries to create a new common, a group of people that wouldn’t normally be together. I think the Master’s I did at Konstfack “Art in the Public Realm” was very much about that. For example, in the collaboration I did with Adam Tensta at Tensta Konsthall, where I did a series of workshops with Adam and young local girls, giving them a space to vocalize, the end product was a sound performance. And in the work I did curating at Norberg festival I was trying to join people who don’t come from just a visual arts background, or just a music background.
I am tired of going to places where there isn’t anybody of colour or where I am the only female.
Right now I have a massive problem with that there is hardly any black people reflected in experimental electronic music, it’s just the matter of doing the research. I am tired of going to places where there isn’t anybody of colour or where I am the only female. I kind of see these divisions all the time. I guess in a way I feel like I could always label myself, as a second generation immigrant, as a woman, as a specific social class, but I don’t have these complexes when it comes to gender or class or colour. By all means that’s not to say that I’m not aware of them and that’s not to say that there are times when, whether it be socially or culturally, I have felt the impacts of racism, or the impacts of gender inequality. I just want to break down the divisions, and the bloody boxes we are so comfortable in.