Not You

Hannah Black

3 – 31 October 2015

Arcadia Missa is excited to present our first solo exhibition by artist Hannah Black. The exhibition will bring together aspects of the artist’s video practice with new installation work, guided by her attempts to think about a politics that doesn’t rely on the structure of analogy.

Contemporary black critiques of political transposition and cultural appropriation block an easy, white-centred reliance on analogy and problematise coalition and solidarity. The empty slur “identity politics” ignores that this is also a politics of disidentification, of a maddening, exhilarating pressure on language and representation. Of course the violent unity of the capitalist world is real, so this politics against language is also a politics for the radical mutation of language.

In the midst of worldwide flows of information and commodities, lives are interrupted and blocked by the same systems that guarantee their fungibility and movement. What happens under the sign of flow also happens under the sign of stasis. Liquidity swirls and freezes, in the same moment. The brand fixes an identity in place so that it can move.

I’ve been flying around a lot lately. In London airports you make your movements smooth and controlled to get through security without drawing attention. In Frankfurt they checked the passports coming out of the plane – an air steward who was literally and not figuratively in that moment a cop, holding out her hand – and again at passport control, where I queued for a long time and tried to keep my face neutral for the border cop’s gaze.

Materials are treated as flags of a globalised subjectivity, of a system of false analogies made real through violence. But there is always the dream of escape or of flow, the dream that in another place I will find myself again intact. Both the systemic flow of capital and the fugitive flow of liberation get interrupted. Thought should be more ashamed of itself. Since I tried to give up analogies, I notice them everywhere.

I’ve been up there wrapped in the brand of flow – the flag of the colonial centre is an airline blanket. Some people are wrapped in whiteness. The relationships, the points of contact, feel fraught and uneasy. No we don’t share a language, or the language we share is collapsing, should collapse, was always collapsing, was never really built. I am a token, like a coin. I am a thing that moves money around. I bring my fake skins to Peckham.

Even if (my) thought becomes jagged and raw under the burden of its new obligations, I don’t miss the easy and false recognitions I once enjoyed, when I thought I could speak for someone other than myself.