When you can express and articulate what’s happening to you, you have a measure of transcendence over it. It’ gives you speech it gives you self-definition and when you have self-definition and not defined by the world then you transcend.
James H. Cone
Trailer for I See No Ships video collage series 2018
A story has long circulated that as Christopher Columbus approached the coast of the “New World,” Native Americans staring out at the water—straight at his ships—could not see them.[i] The theory being that when Columbus’s ships were approaching the Caribbean islands the Native people could not see them because they had no knowledge that such technology existed, and the idea of such a thing was too much for their primitive brains to process so they were blind to the ships.
The ownership of cultural narratives and objects through colonial privilege has historically placed the colonizers rather than the indigenous creators in a position to assign identity, authenticity and cultural value; to interpret meanings for the narratives, and to assign objects a place in art or museum archives. It is therefore through the gaze of this institutionally supported mistreatment and exploitation that these people are evaluated. This process is not simply about racial disharmony but rather authorship and authority.
I See No Ships is a multi media series of works which began in 2002. It is my attempt at transcendence as there seems to be a malevolent inclination to maintain and implicit dichotomy or opposition between ideas of white purity and black or brown primitivism. Within this series I am interested in addressing the cultural imbalance that stems from a denial of self authored representations and techniques used to form our understanding of what “ethnic” culture is in relation to the norm. Developing my own narratives for what the subjective minds of colonial plunder might have witnessed I attempt to add a counter perspective to the celebrated depictions of a romantic American experience.
still from I See No Ships video collage 2017
For more information on I See No Ships – An on going exploration of the theory of perceptual blindness click on link
[i] Believing is Seeing; Sects and Violence in the Ancient World Musings on religion ancient and modern; Posted September 10, 2012, Steve A. Wiggins, Ph.D.