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  • Writer's pictureJaz

"aDD a CaTcHy TiTLe"

At the end of last month, the UK announced a lockdown.

I can't even begin to explain how much this has thrown me. Of course, I'm very aware of the importance of this lockdown; there's a pandemic raging across the planet. But it means all archives have been closed. It means every studio - every editing suite is closed. It means I cannot use models for my project. It means I'll be working from home everyday for the foreseeable future. So this is not ideal.

I don't currently have a PC strong enough to handle all of the editing I regularly do, so I've been trying to rethink my practice. I really don't want to resort to using 'found' photos, and I don't want to deal with all of the problems that will come with getting my photos printed and then sent to me to work on. I just know that I'll end up getting annoyed about something, whether it's the paper quality, the courier service, the size of the images, the speed of the printing place I use... it feels too precarious an option.

I don't really talk to my peers outside of project timetables and studio work, so as you can imagine, I haven't seen them in a while. My family and friends are great, but they don't have an artistic background and can't comment on my work in the same way.

And even outside of working, things are difficult. It's so hard to stay motivated when you can't go anywhere. It's so hard to even get out of bed. And hearing about friends and loved ones dying has been a genuine shock. I wasn't expecting to hear such news so frequently so early. We're only three months into the year!

So yes. Recently, I haven't been very productive at all. This post is more of an acknowledgement of what is going on, and how it has begun to affect me and the people around me. It has been making me think about my essay though. Exploring the Handsworth Riots feels even timelier now - look at people resisting against the government. So many people - for some reason - are insisting on doing what they want. Think about how Handsworth's community was being treated back in the late 70s. And now think about people hosting parties out of spite in the modern day. If people will resist against something like this, then it makes even more sense for Handsworth's uprising. I just think that I'll be able to explore a lot of relevant questions around resistance and space.

And even outside of my studies. Just in February, there were deportation flights to Jamaica for passengers that were no longer considered British enough to stay. There's that parallel with Attack the Block and getting rid of 'black monsters' one way or another. The retaliation to merely occupying space can be so violent. It's mad.

I remember hearing elders tell stories about how back in Jamaica, they saw a plane drop flyers down to them, practically begging them to come to this country and fix it. Then when those elders reached Britain, there was no support made available. Not only did they have to 'fix' the country (it's still emphatically broken lol), but they also had to prove their humanity every step of the way. How dehumanising. How disrespectful.

And then the children of those elders - most of whom had British citizenship as a given - are now being sent back home because this country is done with them. Let's be real - the only reason the UK isn't arranging more flights [even in a pandemic] is because Jamaica has shut their borders. How dehumanising. How disrespectful.

But look at the relationship between Britishness and space. Who is allowed to access space freely, and who is constantly questioned for doing so? What was this country's excuse for leaving the European Union (even though our borders remain open during a pandemic)? What does colonialism and slavery have in common? It has always been about social spaces and access.

And now, in a time when everyone is being told to self-isolate, it is worth "asking" who is choosing to ignore this.

Our asking is mere politeness. We know who is going outside and putting other people in danger. It's the same people who travelled to Africa and the West Indies, spreading coronavirus there. It's the same people who ventured to the Americas all those centuries ago, and decided that they had discovered land that people were already living on. It's the same people who 'scrambled' to carve up Africa, with little regard for the lives and legacies of the people already there. It's the same people that tear up at the thought of the military and empire, and name 'war movies' as their favourite genre, and look down on you if you don't wear the poppy.

To truly believe that you are British/Occidental is to believe that you deserve to access space, regardless of where it is. Regardless of whose it is. It is irrespective of class, age, gender, sexuality, and even race and religion. It is why some of the most oppressed demographics in the world struggle to unite. To subscribe to a Western ideology is to subscribe to an ideology of capital, individualism, and hegemony.

My prediction is that things are going to become far worse.

Which is why it is so incredibly hard to focus.

I don't even know what I need to do next. It's jarring.

In the meantime, enjoy this meme I made, commenting on capital, individualism, and hegemony, but when it manifests as 'slacktivism'.

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