A few notes while writing about Moments Contained, the sculpture of Thomas J. Price that will be installed at Rotterdam Centraal Station in June 2023.
Her glance and the soft imprints of her unclenching fists make me think about stillness. Hers, ours. And, how powerful it is to make time for stillness in the midst of chaos. Or, as Toni Morrison taught us, as a response to it. Seeing her, this beautiful praise to pause, in a space that’s so synonymous to sound, busyness and haste, is poetic. It’s a beauty we often miss or rush past because have been made to believe that stillness is a waste of time rather than a part of it. Relearning to not just value our sounds and to also recognize ourselves when we’re not presented in a spectaclized forms, requires imagination. Often, we need something to build our imagination on so bless the hearts of artists who, when considering how to portray us, choose our Quiet. Decisions like this require vision and care. And, tenderness because even without her plint, it takes more than craft and an eye for carefully laid babyhairs to make a 4-metre-tall girl represent relatability. Especially if that relatability is a subtle, ever so clever method to not just critique but to refuse these eurocentric links between scale, materials, form and importance. With his most recent work Moments Contained, British sculptor Thomas J. Price offers us ourselves in one of my favourite forms of rest: unbotheredness.
I’ve never let my abilities to function (dare I say ‘ride’) at dawn confuse me into thinking I’m a morning person. Yet, I’m excited about waking up before sunrise, making my way to Rotterdam Centraal Station, sitting on something that isn’t the floor and enjoy my tea as the sunrise finds its way to Moments Contained. At the risk of being misidentified as a Notep I can honestly say that yes, this excitement can absolutely be traced back to my decade-old fascination with sphinxes facing the sunrise. What delights me about Moments Contained are the reconsiderations she offers. Who deserves to not just have their representation but also their shadow claim a grander-than-human space in our public domains? Who deserves certain scales, certain materials? And, what happens when a 4-metres-tall statue of a Black person has a name that offers no introduction or disclaimer to this Blackness?
Sculptures and statues that are not just of but are also made by Black people, make me think in maps. They make me wonder what a mapping of Black presence in Western-Europe would look like if with ‘presence’ we mean ‘architecture’. Or ‘art in the public domain’.
I’m thankful for the (re)considerations Thomas J. Price’s work offers us and I’m excited to write about it for this wonderful, Rotterdam based art institution. More info soon.
The need for Afro-Dutch reviewers: PaarsPaars and upcoming event
On Friday November 11 Romana Vrede, Ira Kip and I launched PaarsPaars (PurplePurple), the space where Blackity Black thinkers reflect, share and cultivate conversations about Black art in the Netherlands. We started with an open letter to our kinfolk: A note about the need for Black reviewers. During the #BPTUnpacks event at Bijlmer Parktheater on Friday December 2, we’ll gather to discusssss. We’ll unpack a variety of Dutch theatre reviews and (re)imagine the kind of conversations the work of Afro-Dutch theatre makers, choreographers and playwrights truly deserves. Please note: The presentations and conversations during this event will be in Dutch.
#BPTUnpacks event info
Date and location: Friday December 2, Bijlmer Parktheater (Amsterdam).
Time: Doors open at 19.10h, we start at 19.30h sharp-sharp.
Presentations by: Ernestine Comvalius, Emilie van Heydoorn, Ira Kip, Richard Kofi and yours truly.
For our panel we’ll be joined by: José Montoya.
Tickets: Click this link to buy tickets for #BPTUnpacks on Friday December 2 .
Excerpts from our note:
‘From Eurocentric expectations and a less than minimal knowledge of Black arts to the use of terms like “gorilla” to describe Black performers… In its current form, the world of Dutch reviews has nothing to offer creators like us. It’s horrendous to witness how, time and time again, various art editors try to suffocate this work that is so important to us by squeezing it into the narrowest forms of whiteness. Horrendous and beyond boring. (…) We need reviews and reflections that inspire Afro-Dutch makers to further strengthen, deepen and broaden their artistic signatures. We long for art criticism and other forms of reflections that don’t just fit our imagination, involvement and expertise, but that also emerge from them. (…) Our imagination, our joy, our rest, our worries, our commitment, our knowledge, our curiosity, our history, our now, our future, our spectacles and our everydayness deserve more in depth conversations. Our future makers deserve an archive in which they see us and themselves reflected in pieces that are written by us. We can’t trust anybody else with this responsibility. To remix Toni Morrison: “We are our own best thing.”’
Instah fam, be sure to follow @paarsispaars for all your updates. The note will soon be translated in English. Click here for the full version (in Dutch).
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