) to portray history and uncover the clandestine

) In modern
society the interpretation of the term monumental are objects that are great in
size and very emphasised, nonetheless in the language of art the content of monumental
is a piece of art which is not only great in size, acquiring the qualities of
being larger than life but having great significance to historically meaning.

The culture of art has always been to portray history and
uncover the clandestine historical meaning to society but also bearing the
characteristics and interests of the artist so they can be socially identified
by viewers. Likewise, many contemporary artists establish their art work on
factors such as; culture, slavery, race, racism, gender etc. The two art practitioners
that best illustrate the theme of monumental and will be looked at in this
essay are Kara Walker and Lubaina Himid. Both practitioners are very different,
but within their style and genre of art, both based their artistically
production on the history of coloured people.

(Ref from quote- http://www.azquotes.com/quote/803267)Walker
quoted ‘I think really the whole problem with racism
and its continuing legacy in this country is that we simply love it. Who would
we be without the struggle?’ Through scrutinizing this quote,  it could be concluded that Walkers concept on
slavery and racism built people of colour, it manufactured who they are today.  Walker then put her beliefs and historical
knowledge into the language of art, creating a sculpture called the “Sugar
Subtlety” along with fifteen sculptures
of little boys called the “Banana Boys.” The factual idea of the Sugar Subtlety is not just to
educate viewers on the obscure meaning of slavery but to encourage the public
to review elements that are so visible in society which many people wish were
almost forbidden to speak about. These bodies have influenced the public to
make these factors invisible such as; immigration, migration, and the
mythologizing of black women’s bodies. The Sugar Subtlety is not just ambitious
in its term of content; the use of public art creates a space to engage in
theses difficult conversations.  There
are a variety of different historical factors that make up the Subtlety,
however all these factors primarily link to slavery and ancient Egyptian
history although there are a few components linked to problems in society. 

Sugar Subtlety is an elaborate sort of marzipan or sugar
sculpture made of sugar paste which is a type of fondant. Furthermore, in the
history of the mid evil times at the court of King Henry when kings and queens
would throw large banquets, they would have a main course and the guests would then
eat the sugar sculpture. Digesting this sweet desirable substance could have
been seen as symbolic to these people as they were almost ingesting the power
of the king. The reasoning as to why sugar was so momentous in sight of Walker
was because it all correlated to slavery as slaves were sold for sugar and
sugar for slaves.  Many African slaves
were moved from Africa to the West Indies to labour on sugar plantations during
the 17th and 18th centuries. Having this industry and the
slave trade made many British ports and merchants that were in involved
remarkably wealthy. British sugar consumption was 4 pounds per person, due to
the popularity of sugar to sweeten luxury drinks such as tea and coffee. This
grew dramatically to 18 pounds per person. The logic to why sugar was such a
desirable substance in Britain was because before the slave plantains sugar was
only for the rich. In 1750 sugar was the most valuable commodity in European
trade, it made up a fifth of all European imports. The slave traders believed
that the most adequate method of growing sugar was on large plantations with
many workers, this became the main plantation system in the Caribbean.
Conditions on the plantations were extremely harsh therefore the life expectancy   of slaves
was only three years. Due to a lack of labour in the Caribbean, a vast amount
of Africans were then imported into the Caribbean including children, women and
the elderly.

Going back to Walkers quote the word ‘struggle’ and  ‘wouldn’t be who we are’  correspond to both the sugar plantations as
well as monumental and the idea of use of sugar for her subtlety. Walker has
gone beyond these words, Walker symbolizes that only the strongest of slaves
survived through the struggle they endured. This links to the term monumental
in the language of art as she goes in depth with history. This evidence is
proven in her work of art the sugar subtlety 
as not only does she use history to 
get her views to understand the logic behind her work, however she also uses
history in her speeches so views can get a better intellectual understanding of
the theory behind her art work through listen and visualising her sculptures.  

The domino sugar factory took on an extremely ambitious
task, principally taking on a large part of the work. These unpaid and over
worked artisans took our sweet taste of sugar and materialist it for the use of
Walkers project, in addition to this the domino factory used 330 foam blocks
which was carved to perfection by Digital Atelier and a group of sculptors. Once
the body of the subtlety was in place it was then camouflaged with 35 tons of
white sugar, as a result the circumference of subtlety was 35 foot tall, 75
foot long and 40 feet wide the exhibit consists; a women wearing a kerchief of
a Mothers character, a coloured southern African American women whose duties
were to look after white children the monumental naked women had black African
features; nose that were quite wide and lips that were full she was perched and
had a large body. The life size sculpture was very mythical bearing African and
Egyptian features. The reasoning to why I state Egyptian is because the
subtlety is like the carvings leading up to an Egyptian hallway. ‘Egyptian’ and
‘Slaves’ if we dig deeper and go in depth within history we’ll come to a
conclusion that the Egyptians were the ones who invented slavery as they would
force labour for royalty resources this forms a relationship with the slave
trade and African American history .

It took 9weeks to create this monumental project, 210
volunteers and 32 crew members,
at the Domino Sugar Factory,
one of New York City’s architectural icons, dominates the waterfront of Williamsburg, Brooklyn(1-33 S 1st St, Brooklyn NY 11249). The
environment walker chose is very symbolic as it blends in with the subject
matter because the spaces that hosts Walkers sculpture were covered in history
the walls were the Domino factory was one of the largest sugar refinery in the
world since the year 1882, it was even used to store raw sugar cane as it
arrived from the Caribbean plantations for refinement and packaging.

 

Limaina
himid was the first eldest and women of colour to win the turner prize, with
her work of arts establishing racial politics
and the legacy of slave industry which she addresses the secluded and neglected
cultural contribution made by people of colour when they were forced to labour,
the warp and weft which is a survey of works approaching disrupts
preconceptions of the world buy using monumental resources like the use of
history and contemporary stories such as; racial bias and acts of violence inflicted
upon oppressed communities. Through her works of art viewers have categories Himid
as a painter who celebrates the creativity of coloured people and the African
diasporas institual. Warp and weft is almost created for painters to question
its imperialist tradition, it constitutes of three bodies of work which arts adopts
the mantel of the history. “By reinserting black figures into this arena of
power and prestige, Himid foregrounds the contribution of people of the African
diasopra to western culture and economy (firstsite
2017 james rum).” The exhibition Warp and Weft are threads that are held in
tension on a frame or loom to create cloth. The reasoning to why Himid chose
the tile was because it had great significance and importance in the wool trade
between the 13th and 16th  centuries and its complex history of race and
migration that is reflected in the productive tensions of Himids work.

Likewise, Naming the money are large installation,
made up of 100 life size painted cut- out figures painted in the bright colours
of courtiers, this monumental piece is made on freestanding shaped boars that
viewers can walk in the mist of so it can become objects that surround viewers.
The symbolic reference behind Naming the Money is a story telling of coloured servants
and labourers but also bearing the factors of émigré and the asylum seeker. The
life size cut outs each have authentic names, saying their identity and
speaking on their past life and their present predicament, “but each one lives
with their new name and their unpaid occupation attempting somehow to reconcile
the two Artfund Daniel hardy 2018.” This indicates that each individual in the
installation, is arduously telling us something each life size cut out has a
voice and story which can be heard through the soundtrack which plays in the
gallery space or text that would be written on his or hers back this story
represents the work against the sense of powerless mass. Himid piece consists
of; ten ceramicists, ten herbalists, ten toy makers, ten dog trainers, ten
drummers, ten voil de gamba players, ten dancers, ten shoemakers, ten ,map
makers and ten painters. “Like stage-flats, these works reflect Himid’s early
training in theatrical set design. Seventy cut-outs represent African slaves in
the royal courts of eighteenth century Europe. The work features a soundtrack
which gives voice to the figures, and shifts between their original African
names and trades and the new names and professions imposed upon them in Europe
firstsite2017.” The act solidarity enacted by Manchester mil works at the time
of the American Civil War (1861-64) influenced Himid to create The
Monochromatic Cotton.com (2002), the act is where President Lincoln requested
for the abolishment of slavery, raw cotton supplies from plantations to British
mills dried up this then resulted to a mass of unemployment in the textile
industry of North West England and caused a depression called the cotton
famine. Despite the struggle and the high personal cost many citizen’s
supported Lincoln’s and his aim to abolish slavery. The intellectual image that Himid imagines are convocations carried out
between labourers on both sides of the Atlantic, “an
exchange dependent not upon language but rather pattern (Lubainahimid 2017)”.
The use of pattern is very essential and plays a key role in Himid’s Painterly grammar
as she very much views and makes many of her work look attractive in the
feminine sense and style, this very much controls the functioning of her
article style as a means of non- literal communication. ‘I
love the language of pattern, its immense potential for movement, illusion,
colour experiments and subliminal political messaging. This…is just part of the
exploration of how to imply invisible influences without explanation but
without slipping into the abstract. The patterns are narratives’. The work is completed by a text
adapted from one written by a plantation inspector and selected for its
perverse romanticisation of a woman’s enforced labour. A vocal feminist and
defender of women’s’ rights (rightshimid 2017)’.  This quote is evidence of Himid empowering
this woman to communicate again with male glaze

The finally exhibition is the series negative positives:
The Guardian Archive (2001-2016). For over a series of years, Himid collects
daily edition of the Guardain, which is her newspaper of choice building up
comprehensive archive. Himid selects pages which expose’s; black politicians,
athletes and celebrities whether for positive or negative reasons, the artist
selects pages in which there are photographs, so she can highlight interpret
images with such negative headlines, new stories or editorials, which is more
often has no correspond and is very unrelated to the individuals depicted. 

Himid paints over sections of newspaper layouts with bright
and eye catching colours, “geometric shapes and imagery that migrates from
advertisement on page( firstsite 2017)” to symbolise, how they used people of
colour in very subtle ways which can be interpreted as undermining their
identity. Himid the stated, “I was overlooked by critics, by press, but I was
never overlooked by art historians or curators or other artist.” This quotation
alone shows evidence of monumental as going back to the article definition of
monumental associating both history and life size masterpieces Himid was over
by critics, press but not art historians. “The point I am often exploring
vis-à-vis the black experience is that of being so very visible and different
in the White Western everyday yet so invisible and disregarded in the culture,
historical, political or economic record history.”

“Himid views the painterly intervention as an ‘attempt to
reclaim the portrait of the person a restore balance ( firstside 2017).”

 

To conclude both
practitioners explore everyday life in order to explore Black identity. Trying
to tackle issues which in combine; colonial history and how racism persist in
today’s society. 

x

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