coming out @ bmag


6 december 2017

page 2

Maud Sulter: Terpischore (1989) and Calliope (1989)

Immediately, I was attracted to millennial-pink. Even further, and this is sheer honesty, I walked straight past Calliopebecause the skin colour I saw in Terpischorewas more desirable. Out of the two, I naturally gravitated towards the darker skin than the lighter, largely because this was more visibly ethnic. I realised this was a loaded action. Darker skin is unapologetically raw - at the same time too authentic to be deemed celebratory because it challenges white as default.

I liked that I did this naturally, but when I looked properly I saw the colour in Calliopemy peripheral had overlooked a few seconds before.

Handcuff me gals, I committed a crime of Colourism.

For me, to say one is half one colour and half another is inaccurate and unjust. I find my mind constantly asking the question: do people of mixed race not wholly embody the multiple races, heritages and histories their self is made up of as opposed to being talked about as if in eternal ethnic dysmorphia?


That isn’t to say that the image staring back at me presented a mixed race person or a black person specifically, all I knew in front of me was a minoritised shell that my conscious had overlooked for excitement of a more ethnically visible display.


Back to Colourism, it reminded me that I ought not to assume colour. Albeit a struggle of variations, it is undeniable to say that every ethnic exterior bruises.    


Sulter’s series goes further than reimagining black women in the history of art and photography, it repositions it - reclaims it.


Guess which image was of Sulter herself. 

Maud Sulter: Terpischore (1989) and Calliope (1989)

Isaac Julien: The Long Road to Mazatlàn (1999)

I was ready to walk past this one. I saw a white cowboy from far, rolled my eyes when near and thought no thanks outloud. I then stood for a second. It was because I heard a trope - the sweet nothings of thatharmonican sound.


It ended up being one of the most memorable of the 80+ artists featured in the show, which for me was because the idea of troping the trope, groping the trope, is still not being explored enough.


I need to know more about LGBT+ experiences in spaces where living this mentally and emotionally is still suffocated by one’s physical living circumstances and surroundings. 

Like that time when small-town Jenny Schecter moved to Los Angeles, had an affair with her boyfriend's lesbian neighbours' lesbian friend and then had a haircut to chop all the straight off.