All posts filed under: Borders

In Search of The Collective

In beginning this reflection about the collective, I have, ringing at the back of my head, an Igbo saying: Igwe bụ ike which translates to “the collective is power”. This saying is in many ways fundamental to the social psychology of the Igbo people of Nigeria with whom I share a lineage. Elsewhere, Chinua Achebe, the acclaimed Nigerian novelist, and critic, referred to this as the Igbo’s preference for duality as opposed to singularity: “Wherever Something Stands, Something Else Will Stand Beside It”.1 Given that in many African cultures, the place of family and community is, in most cases, held in the highest regard, I can imagine this saying taking on different allegorical and idiomatic forms. Thus if art is to some tangible extent a mirroring of a people’s sociocultural contexts and realities, the notion of the collective as it relates to artistic practices from such places as Africa would be a given – a natural consequence of a way of being. Rightfully so, the collective from time immemorial has served to preserve something of the dignity …

Seeing in the Eye: On Photography and the Gaze

“The danger of identifying with a stranger is the possibility of becoming a stranger. To lose one’s racialized rank is to lose one own valued and enshrined difference”. In my preoccupation with borders, movement and all the various forms of differences they presuppose, I have, more often than not, encountered the question: how can imagery (and by extension photography) play a useful role in the restitution of our world towards more conscious and correlational human relationships? As an attempt to reflect on this question, I would like to begin with the above-cited quote from Toni Morrison’s The Origin of Others. It would seem, at first glance, that it is a quote about reciprocity. Yes. There is that, yet it goes even further. It is a quote about affecting the gaze. Thus I would, for the purpose of my reflection, argue that everything begins with the gaze: affect the gaze and naturally, the effect reciprocates. In the language of the Igbo people of Nigeria (one that I speak as my mother’s tongue), the gaze is central …