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'The power of the image' by Jennifer Akre, inspired by The Unforgotten

By youngviclondon 30 Sep 2020

'Stop, Agitate, Fix'

 

The Power of The Image

STOP.  AGITATE. FIX. 

A process of negative to positive where an image is unlocked in a darkroom.  Monochrome polarity, black white.

Eve, Lilith – the shadow side.  Expression, repression, hot, cold, rain, shine

Kinky, curly, wavy, straight, afro.  Wigs, “the wrong hair”, no hair.  Hair from a bottle.  Bob, blunt cut, long, short, mid-length, relaxers or natural.  Black with blonde hair, WHITE wearing china bump (that’s what they called ‘Bantu’ growing up).

Do you feel the pressure to conform to Western standards of beauty?

Do you advocate animal cruelty?

How are you treating your yourself as you continue to face adversity?

How would you describe your natural hair texture? silky? soft? tightly coiled, or unmanageable.  What product do you use on your hair and how often? 

What fruit best describes your body shape? plucky peach, athletic banana, voluptuous papaya or raspberry, cherry filled cantaloupe.  An assortment of dried fruits, ‘big bout ya’ soursop, kumquat. If you could change one part of your body, which part of your body would you change?  Are you afraid to age? blue, green coloured eye contacts, does wearing them make me less BLACK? to bleach or not to bleach your skin, that is the question.  We can’t ask poor Yorick because he is a shadow of his former self.  Colonialism? or maybe its caste? where no matter what you achieve in a society, your birth will forever determine how you are seen by rank, prestige, position and station.

When you are WHITE but have grown up experiencing the foods, music and clothing of BLACK is that appreciation or is that stealing?

Deoxyribonucleic Acid descent is the journey of the family, and it is deep and lasting as the word is long.  Do we dishonour the resilience and survival of our ancestors by choosing not to accept our BLACK bodies? Our physical structure, arrays of skin tone, our ability to age with dignity, and our fortitude to withstand the daily onslaught, the pestilence and the disease of another human beings thought.

We are constantly bombarded and subliminally told what is beautiful and acceptable.  We need to see MORE images that positively represent who we can be and who we are, because the night sky only reveals what we can comprehend… and in the end we create our own worlds to elevate THIS world and empower ourselves. 

We stand, we take it all - the good, the bad and the vitriol, because we are being human.

Authentically BLACK.
Chadwick Boseman
 

Written by Jennifer Akre in response to The Unforgotten, a free interactive art installation at the Young Vic which participates in and contributes to the ongoing conversation within the Black Lives Matter movement regarding whose image we uphold and elevate, offering our community an alternative view of leadership. To find out more visit YoungVic.org/TheUnforgotten