Tuesday, October 15, 2013

romancing the (soap)stone... part 4

i havent done much to advance my aesthetic since my last post here 3 years ago. mostly, i've been low-key goofing off playing around on tumblr. initially, my goal was to challenge the perception of 'blackness' by juxtaposing our images against the romanticized imagery important to western culture - to cultivate a romanticized view of Africa and the black diaspora that is most often stereotyped by the world media as 'fetish', 'urban', or 'ghetto'.

it worked initially and i would often receive messages from followers who couldn't understand why i would post African supermodels between romantic Parisian cafe scenes and lush, rural bedroom interiors. or why i would have African mask celebrations between Greek sculptures, southern folk art, and impressionist paintings. few minded a 1960s pin-up model next to an nude painted by Andrew Wyeth, but i'd lose followers whenever i'd insert a breast-heavy selfie of black women in suggestive poses. white folks would ask "are you a 'black blog'? i cant really tell. one moment you're posting doilies and then you're posting Malcolm X!" many black men just assumed i was a white woman. some feminists found me confusing (without knowing my race or gender) for posting bondage images next to women empowerment photos taken from past movements and rallies. i'd post bell hooks next to soft porn.

what i discovered is that whenever people see themselves (or others) in my blog then they most often needed to label my blog in accordance to their own agendas or perceptions. however, im not sure this is still true. currently i have 6700 followers but i only receive one or two messages a month, at most. 2 years ago i had 1500 followers but received one or two messages a week. interaction is down with increased followers. so evidently: 1) people are so familiar my site (or to tumblr) that they no longer place any thought into figuring out why it exists or 2) they simply dont care what other images i post just as long as i still post something that matters to them. and i dont make it easy for folks to ignore me: i think tumblr has 170 per day posting limit for photos, one that i reach at least 3 times a week.

the internet's atmosphere is more polarized than what actually exists, mostly because people feel freer to take extremes when it comes to their beliefs and opinions. i think people used to say extreme-shit just playing devil's advocate, but at some point those comments became entrenched and became an actual part of their personal philosophies. tumblr (like most of the internet) has 4 primary components: art, race, gender, and porn. my ideal photo post would be composed of all 4 elements. 3 would be great. if only 1 or 2, then the surrounding images have to pick up the slack and really have more visual/culture substance overall. but lately it all feels empty.

i dont openly express the reasons why my blog exists, because doing so would most likely play into the expectations of those who follow or might follow. if i say "my blog is a black blog" or "it's a feminist blog" or "a gardening blog" then my blog could become appropriated by those championing blackness/feminism/gardening/etc. i want my blog to be used for introspective growth more than for a culturally divisive tool in open debate.

overall, my abstrack africana tumblr blog champions for the romanticism of black women. it places black women from all eras and walks of life smack-dab next to the positive imagery popularized in western trains of thought. winning the debate doesn't mean you've changed the mindset or gut-instincts of those opposing you... you have to find ways to challenge their idealism, not the language they use in defense of it. i'm not out to eradicate racist thought, i want to make the children of racist people desire to be me when they romanticize their daydreams; for us to be fantasized about without being fetishized. for god's sake, america has found a way to softly romanticize sexual bondage! ...there is more to being black than resisting oppression. "black is beautiful" should be no more offensive to white people than "kiss me i'm irish".

a lasting empowerment is not as much about winning your arguments as it is about effectively disarming your opponents. win the imagination of the children (regardless of race) and the tides against you will lessen and turn. 

but as i was saying, my blog seems to have lost its steam. i'm not as convinced about people's interest in it - maybe that's because i, myself, have lost interest in it. i really need to get back to actually creating art and writing and not just curating the artworks of others. i think that blog has peaked and has said all that it can and i haven't been as satisfied with its 'message' as i initially was. i wont delete it (i dont think), but i think i'll soon stop posting to it; probably by year's end.

we shall see.