I have a deep-seated attraction to the colour black, an attraction which reflects in my practice. My exploration of black extends beyond that of simple colour. I am interested in black as the absence of colour, black as a non-colour, black as a spatial concept, as a symbol, as a material, black as absence and as a weighted presence. With a sense of mimicry to Yves Klein and his penchant for blue, I have explored black repeatedly through sculpture and video installation to a point of obsession, but recently my focus has centred on the cultural and sociological implications of the black. My penchant for the colour black in my practice cannot be compared to that of Yves Klein and his signature blue for many reasons, the main one being that Yves Klein was a white male using the colour blue and I am a black female using the colour black.
Although founded upon my areas of interest, my practice is heavily influenced by the many pre-existing connotations that are attached to my subject matter; Whilst I do not address race in my practice, the fact that I am a black woman, making work using the colour black, means that my work has connotations of racial discourse.
A piece wherein I doused my face and body in treacle (a sugar derivative similar to molasses), will become removed from its original intent. Instead of the intended narrative of the sexualisation of the viscous, dark fluid, the fetishized action of drowning myself in blackness, it is the associations tied to the colour and the history of the material, which are thrust to the fore. The piece wherein I douse my face with treacle is now supplanted with connotations of blackening oneself up, the politics of lighter brown skin being darkened to the blackest skin, black face, black face in the film industry, the minstrel show, molasses, the sugar industries and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
My use of the colour black as both content and subject matter, is automatically given further content and meaning since I, the artist, am also a black woman. I neither hide, nor addresses my blackness in my practice. I neither reject nor embrace the subject of race in my work. My exploration of black is of the ideological and the psychological, of both the material and immaterial (black as colour, black as space) but my blackness inevitably supplants additional content to my work.
Myself and, by proxy, my work occupies the frame of the other. This enforced otherness subsequently herds my practice into a place of warring content; What I have made versus what the work contains i.e. the content that I insert consciously and with intent, versus content that is pre-existing within the materials (e.g. a bottle of rum used to reference alcoholism, but combined with my Caribbean ancestry, the rum would also reference colonialism and the export of rum) What I personally am referring to, versus what the work autonomously makes reference to in the absence of my statements; My narratives versus what is read and supplanted by the viewer.
Through my work, I explore not only my own attraction to this particular colour, but also the dissemination the colour itself. Its meaning and the specificities of how context can alter an entire subject matter, simultaneously restructuring meaning and invalidating intent.