Wednesday 24 July 2019

Decolonising..... and Music Migrations

A number of friends and colleagues in art history have recently been exercising themselves over the question of how to decolonise Art History, and odd phrase if ever there was as, superficially, it suggests that Art History has to shake off its bonds. After all, who colonised it? Jewish emigré(e)s in the 1930s, complex, intellectual lesbians on the 1900s or queer English gentlemen in the 30s and 40s, or marxists ... the list is endless, from chinless wonders to control freak philosophers. I've written enough on the idea of Art History as such to tend still to think that the question of how to decolonise it begs the question of what it is in the first place and gives it rather a lot of power to non-ironically following Kipling into saying 'you're a a better man than I am..(fill in any supposedly subaltern group whom you, the empowered art historian, have decided to save through your own well-meaning).

Take, within gender dominance, the case of Nicos Hadjinicolaou who wrote The History of Art and Class Struggle, hyper Althusserian and Françoise d'Eaubonne, Histoire de l'art et lutte des sexes, hyper lesbian separatist:   Nicos on a Rubens Silenus according to her remarks that the Satyr behind him 'lui pince la cuisse', whereas, she remarks, 'il le bougre'. She, thus, decolonises the image from NH radical and implacable straightness. In this decolonising is always a critique of the subject position as we called it in those days. 

But alas for this empowered enlightenment, alas alas freedom comes from elsewhere and in some ways was there in the already and always of the supposed subaltern's gesture.

One example then I am boring myself. There is a wonderful exhibition in Paris right now, and I do not mean the Black Model.
I got a third of the way round is as many hours, a lot of dancing on the spot to old tubes I heard and saw on Scoppitones in Paris circa 1963. The Ya Ya Twist, for example. Imagine it sung by Petula Clark (see youtube, you don't have to use any imagination) Then in the exhibition sung by Malika ( who was to die in police detention, I think)

but opening in a kind of Berber mode, the thing is in that gesture alone decolonised. You can dance to this for hours and dance differently to Chubby Checker, even, less queerly in some ways, more in others. Round the corner in the show, Desmond Dekker and 'The Israelites', and the gesture recurs in a different way.

Anyway, now I am boring myself so here are some old pis of mine from Paris following the big changes of the early 80s and other stuff.

actually the Marais.

me in Southsea

London W1

Southsea again, above and below

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