NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 131

BRN-FALL-2013.indb 129 m Sea Wall, 2011 Charcoal, pastel, acrylic emulsion, and ink on paper 84” x72” dc: No, or I mean, it was washed away completely. The first story of the seawall is the older story, that’s the one my parents told me, but then when I got back from Africa I went down to the seawall and found out that that totally different people were there, and they were interested in other things, the birds and the bees, it was a lover’s lane. rm: So, as a child, you hear one thing, then, as a young man, you go back, and it’s a completely different thing? dc: I went to the seawall to look for the story, but when I got there I found it was nothing like in the story, people were there for different reasons. rm: Culture is complicated, some of its gets washed away, for others it doesn’t, and then there’s modern culture on top of what’s washed away. In your art, are you in the mood to assimilate to the Lexus or are you interested in re-exploring lost traditional culture? BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE rm: And this brought things back for you? It’s almost the Freudian model of the uncanny, something forgotten come back to the surface, is this the background of your drawing, Seawall ? 129 dudley charles: In 1977, I went to Africa, Lagos, Nigeria, for the Second World African Festival of Art and Culture (festac), where every country had to make a presentation of cultural arts. I was a representing artist of Guyana South Americana. I remembered art works by Faith Ringgold and William T. Williams from the usa and Aubrey Williams from the uk. I was sitting next to a woman, my liaison there, a beautiful woman whom I became very close with. As we sat there, a dance troupe from Brazil came up on stage and began to perform, and she asked me, “Do you know what they are doing there?” I said, No! She told me, they are doing the ceremonies that we do, practiced by the Yoruba Tribe. So she explained this tradition that even though it was in Portuguese what this Brazilian troupe was doing was African and the same thing that Nigerians do, she knew exactly what they were doing, in connection with what was done in Nigeria, all the movements and gestures were the same, and she could understand it and play it back—and my eyes were open. In Guyana, the Hindus (note: Indians immigrated to Guyana in the 1830’s) worship a kind of goddess, they call her the woman of the sea. I remembered stories that my parents used to tell me, that if I went to the seawall in Georgetown I would meet this woman. They described it to me as if it was real, like a Greek myth. When this woman in Nigeria spoke of all these things, all this came back to me. 9/13/13 12:48 AM