Is the Face not Currency enough?
The question is posed in promoting the Journeys and Kinship project on the Museum of London Docklands website. I was fortunate to work with a group of very capable young Londoners, who had already responded to this question in their own way to the issues of enslavement; historical or modern day.
On Saturday, 25 February, parents, extended family and friends gathered at the Museum for the premiere film screening, music score and photography, documenting the Journeys and Kinship project. This was the result of months of hard work by participants, supported by facilitators. It was a beautiful day in every respect and there was much appreciation of the young people’s work by all concerned.
The Journeys and Kinship project is a progression from a body of work entitled ‘We’ve already paid – Journeys and Kinship’ - a response to an irony. Returnees, from the African diaspora enter what are in actual fact, memorials, to pay their respects to ancestors who were stored as cargo, awaiting shipment across the Atlantic. In addition, they pay a fee to enter these memorials.
Sale over Centuries, 2010 and young Londoner’s casts - Journeys and Kinship Display
Young Londoner’s face cast display - Journeys and Kinship
‘Sale over Centuries, 2010’ installation is made up of 42 face casts. It aims to convey the emotive with past and living histories -the reconnection of human souls, through symbolic facial recognition across time and geographies. In effect, re-engaging Diaspora and African continent.
Face casts are presented as raw consumerism. From the coastal warehouses of West Africa, to market, then point of sale, they are bar coded, ready for purchase. Within the grid of the installation, is the evocative configuration; vertical and horizontal layers. There is separation from Motherland and every aspect of cultural norm. Yet, the face remains - features and clues to the past.
Meanwhile, the lapse of time and modernity has created a chasm, filled with amnesia; the mother barely recognises her children. Hence, the returnees must tug on her apron, seeking recognition and so, the tools of referencing - inventorial linkages of ancestry are introduced.
The LSS is a logical place to bring ‘Sale over Centuries, 2010’ as an additional experience of learning within the existing display. It was a challenge for our young team, in London, to see the face as a means to reconnection of past and present. The installation’s casts present a neutral inhumanity and identification, while participants were encouraged to freely express their own heritage, identity, personality and interests. They were in effect, making their own history and having fun, (as the original volunteers had done previously) here in this city. I trust it will challenge the wider audience.
In Memory of Mrs Lola May Powell, 12.9.1931 - 12.1.2012 for providing cast no. 31.
With thanks to the Museum for recognising the potential of this project.
Museum officers; LA for steering and mentoring the programme with such passion.
RG for arranging the exhibition display and KM for support and liaison during the proposal stages.
Alexander D Great, Musician and Facilitator - For directing the creation of an excellent piece of music and lyrics.
Yvonne Wilson, Young People’s Advocate (Equi-vision) without whom there would be no presence of such a diverse, engaging team to participate.
Congratulations to all.