We Refuse… is an ongoing series which started in 2009, in which the artist uses old history and anthropological books; taking these books as a medium for cut-outs, collages and texts. Through her work she changes the meaning of the content from a Western colonial perspective quite drastically into the perspective of a black person.
“On high school my history teacher told us to skip the pages in our books concerning the Dutch participation in slavery. This violent act of neglecting a part of my history and that of my ancestors has become one of the common threads in my work. For years I collect old history books, cross out the text and cut holes in images. Looking through the holes is like looking through history. One sees that somehow everything is connected.
In his essay ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’ Stuart Hall emphasizes that we can properly understand the traumatic character of the colonial experience by recognizing the connection between domination and representation. ‘They had the power to make us see and experience ourselves as Other of a dominant discourse.’
I am fascinated by the complexity of the meaning of blakness* in a West-European society. In that sense, when Foucault says that the soul is the prison of the body, I strongly feel that looked upon as a blak woman, being and feeling blak as a social and cultural sign is not enough and is a limitation of who I truly consider myself to be, namely in a constant state of becoming. When the body is not merely a substance but a variable boundary, a surface of which it’s impenetrability is politically regulated and is signified within the cultural domain of race and hierarchy, which language remains to give meaning to a physical determination of race in relation to the soul, signifying one’s appearance; that would be the language of my imagination.
*The C in Blak should be banned, because it also stands as a symbol for a colonial thought. Why do we need a C in Black while in the pronunciation we cannot hear it?? Blak to me symbolizes a political movement open for every person who is willing to liberate him/her self by joining the revolution of the blak community. They should destroy themselves and be born again as beautiful blak persons” – Patricia Kaersenhout