Source: Chris Gallevo
At the October 2015 gathering of CreativeMornings/Chicago, Artist Rashayla Marie Brown presented a sampling of her creative work expressing her manifesto: “The personal is political.” Like most, if not all, constitutions, it’s loaded. Brown addressed a lot of charged topics during her talk: race, identity, representation and stereotypes. These areas, each a respective universe, are expressed through her photography, spoken-word and dancing performances. To me, Brown was a miner. Deeply mining a one-of-a-kind mineral source: the self—that is assembled, projected, perceived, interpreted and reinterpreted.
I left Brown’s talk exhausted, because the wormhole of self-consciousness popped into existence. If a person were to be portrayed as a Photoshop file, the layers would be infinite: layers of ancestry, biology, experiences, history. Besides being a walking sack of chemicals, a human being is a social creature, compounded by the reality of Brown’s view: a political creature as well.
I question the scope and frequency of Brown insistence that “The personal is political.” This is a fascinating claim. Is one constantly flecking off political vibrations like dust with each personal act—verbal, nonverbal and in between? For example, when one is polite, is there an underlying political agenda, whether there’s intent or not?
Are there human acts that are apolitical? When one asserts, “I don’t do politics,” is this truly unbelievable? The spike of self-consciousness strikes again.
In navigating a multicultural and social world, politics everyday and everywhere may most probably be the reality. I’ll try to not suspect every human factor as politicized, that every smile isn’t an instrument of politics, but a self-contained instance of goodwill, nothing more, nothing less, per one politically prone example.
The inverse of “The personal is political” can be absolutely (and consequentially) true: The political is personal.
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Big thanks: to Braintree, Havas Worldwide Chicago (Host), Deskpass, Green Sheep Water, Braintree, for being Partners of monthly Chicago CreativeMornings #46; to organizers Kim Knoll and Kyle Eertmoed who both spoke at Chicago CreativeMornings #7; to the team of volunteers for greatly helping to make CreativeMornings happen monthly in Chicago.
Especially big thanks: to Tina Roth Eisenberg—Swissmiss—for inventing CreativeMornings in 2008. The fifth chapter was launched in Chicago, June 2011—my write-up and photos.
Read more about the people who make the Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings possible.
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