A collection of anti-racist activist and photographer Syd Shelton’s work from Rock Against Racism has been collected together for the first time. Is this book a nostalgic trip to the bad old days of 1970s racial conflict or does it have something to offer a new generation fighting the changing face of racism in the 21st century? Maybe both?
Shelton’s starkly black and white photographs portray the sharp contrasts in 1970s Britain. National Front marchers and anti-racist crowds, the police and the youth on the street, the punks and Rastas, Sikh pensioners and black and white kids, the bands and the audiences.
I have always believed that art and magic were the same thing. In magic, you can manifest power by manipulating objects. These objects (such as images, symbols, and signs) could be utilized to induce activity on the forces of nature and create different mystical phenomena.
This is the main reason why the majority of my works are expressionist ink sketches with figurative representation of resistance against capitalism, patriarchy, racism, imperialism, and other backward manifestations. I believe expressionism is a product of resistance against impressionism and academic art; an art movement charged by emotions, spirituality, and mysticism.
Thee Mistakes was an accident. It did not slip from our tongues fraught with meaning or even mystery; not at first. Much like the systems under which we all live, it was a small idea at first, a placeholder for something better that was yet to come. And like those systems, it stuck. It caught on; we ran with it.
Upon some reflection, though, it came to represent a certain truth. It had felt right because our existence, our collaboration, and the fruits of our discourse highlighted that there were errors, in the system, in our art, our lives, and that we, somehow, had begun to address them.
The painting is of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s very apparent, but also quite jarring in its differences from the iconography of European Christianity in the 20th century. Marc Chagall, the Jewish painter, deliberately estranged and defamiliarized the painting’s subject. The cross on which he is crucified does not have a top and is shaped more like a “T” (as some scholars say many crucifixes were). Christ himself is wrapped in a Jewish prayer shawl. This is not Jesus as Christian messiah we are seeing suffer, but Jesus as Jew.
White Crucifixion was painted by Chagall in 1938. Kristallnacht, the anti-Jewish pogrom that was officially sanctioned by Nazi minister Joseph Goebbels, had taken place just prior to his starting the painting. It was a plea for the world to acknowledge and pay attention to what was being done to Europe’s Jews at the time.
Red Wedge presented two panels at last month’s Historical Materialism conference in Toronto. The first panel was designed to expound on the theme of our second issue, “Art Against Global Apartheid,” which was officially launched at the conference. The following presentations were part of the panel:
- “Time/Space/Resistance and the Aesthetics of Neoliberalism” by Alexander Billet
- “Bitch Better Have My Marxism: Notes On the Intersection of Politics and Pop Culture” by Crystal Stella Becerril
- “November Network of Anti-capitalist Artists” by Adam Turl
Remi Kanazi’s second, and most recent collection of poetry, Before the Next Bomb Drops: Rising Up from Brooklyn to Palestine, could be summed up with the line: “the world is a messed up place,” the first line of the poem, “Nothing to Worry About.” Is the line fitting? Yes, and, no. Most poems, after all, are connected by themes of exile, displacement, colonialism, homelessness, violence, and police brutality, themes that, at first glance seem bleak. Nonetheless, to the attentive reader, these themes are the building blocks of a larger argument, an argument that calls for human solidarity against oppression of all kinds.
we've charted the flaming arch
of nitroglycerine stars
dreams that explode against reality
seen dragons emerge from clouds of tear gas
and men in shades of midnight run away
the Street muscle down skyscrapers
in cities perspiring chaos
Michelle Cruz Gonzales (then known as Todd) played drums and wrote lyrics in Spitboy, one of the most important hardcore bands of the 1990s. Along with bands such as Grimple, Econochrist, and Paxton Quigley they were part of an explicitly political corner of the East Bay punk scene. With an all woman line-up Spitboy’s performances defied expectations of what “women and rock” and “feminism” were supposed to mean at the time. Gonzales’ new book Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band (PM Press) defies expectations once again. People of Color have been part of the punk scene from the beginning. Gonzales is part of a lineage that includes Detroit’s Death, The Bags (Los Angeles), Poly Styrene and Pat Smear. Spitboy Rule makes the invisible visible. It is both a walk down counter culture’s memory lane as well as a serious exploration of identity, gender and race.
The artist’s narrative conceptual “Red Mars” is a mixed-media installation of acrylic, coffee, meteorite dust, glitter, stickers, wheat paste on canvas, a telescope, LED sign and booklets. His fictional artist/character views the future of a colonized Mars through a backyard telescope. This character views freedom from a very different perspective, as he creates art and invents “Stories” that confront injustice and consumerism.
The sign, homemade, carried by a protester, reads “Ferguson to Gaza, Intifada, Intifada.” The slogan is more than a sentiment, more than a simple but powerful statement of solidarity. It is all of these things, but much more too. It is an explicit recognition of the world’s reality, far beyond Ferguson or Gaza.
"Apartheid" in today's world does not describe just a particular legal circumstance in this or that corner of the globe. It is, in varied and intricate ways, a fact of daily life under neoliberalism. Global capital communicates to us in any political, economic or aesthetic language it can muster: "This world is not yours, and you do not belong here."