A slice of racial difference

This piece of artwork is from the Alien Nation, a project, which explores the complex relationship between science fiction, race and contemporary art.

“The very concept of ‘race’ as a natural, biological and unchangeable essence is itself a historical fetish because there is only one race, the human species. In its dominant articulation, the chromatic metaphor seeks to conceal the artificial and historically motivated character of the mythologiese of racial difference it brings into effect, by naturalising the word of representation as a mere reflection of visible difference” – [Mirage: Enigmas of Race, Difference and Desire]

The extract above struck me about the perception of racial difference can induce people to bring both harmony and disruption into society through their own form of interpretation. My grandparents along with other Chinese and Indians were immigrants from China during the British colonisation in Malaysia. Having been exposed to difference cultures and races in Malaysia and in the UK, I started to question about my identity more than ever. I once asked myself if look like an ‘alien’ because I was always the only yellow skinned person in most bars and clubs  in Switzerland. Yes, racial difference is also an exploration of visual difference.

Many any artists have developed work, which represents racial difference as a mere visual difference. Similarly, identity has also been mentioned as a recognition of the politics of difference. I also believe that every human has a unique identity, which is regardless of skin colour, language spoken or any other biological difference.

“Rather than attempting to determine the primacy of race or class or gender, we ought to search for ways of articulating how these various categories of experience infect and interrogate each other and how we as social subject are constitued” – [Mirage: Enigmas of Race, Difference and Desire]

The combination of race and unique identity should enable the society to function as one. I happened to stumble upon a Malaysia artist who has baked a cake (picture above), which represents Malaysia. According to the artist, Mohd Zahuri Khairani,the cake, which consists of layers or ‘lapis’ in Malay, have been arranged in a pattern with elements of color to represent the multi racial culture in Malaysia. He also says ‘‘Lapis’ also exploits social, economic and political symbols and the process of hybridity in Malaysian culture and contemporary art’. The cake certainly looks pretty but I wonder if it tastes as good as what the Malaysians want it to be.

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2 Responses to A slice of racial difference

  1. paula roush says:

    kelly, it is great to read your very personal post, the way you weave in your personal backgound with your reflexions around the readings could provide you with a ‘style’ for your art essay. hopefully you’ll find your own way of doing it but his one works well,

    regarding surface, ie, writing appearance, would be great if you’d include some information about the first work (by ynka shonibare), as well as dates, etc. as you described Mohd/s work ( i would also add the date of the work, if you know it)

    Also, the way you reference your sources could be done using the harvard referencing style, so you start preparing for your essay and standardise your referencing method.

    This is a good source http://www.wmin.ac.uk/page-8421
    In the Harvard system whenever a reference to a source is made its author’s surname and the year of publication are inserted in the text. Citing the author in the text
    example- Dogs were the first animals to be domesticated (Sheldrake, 1999).
    Or, If the author’s name occurs naturally in the sentence the year is given in brackets.
    Sheldrake (1999) asserts that dogs were the first animals to be domesticated.

  2. Pingback: Yinka Shonibare: ‘I am as free as Picasso’ | Black Atlantic Resource Debate

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