A Project: Beyond Law and Democratic Ideals*
In Secure the Base (2016), Ngūgī wa Thiong’o stated that “Words become very important in the power relations between individuals and groups, in the exercise of law and democratic ideals” (5). Indisputably true and an area that deserves and receives ample study. Less so explored is the importance of words in cultural texts (in this instance gallery write ups, artists biographies, art criticism…)
The use of words that uphold colonial stereotypes are still manifold it texts concerning both long-standing traditional work and contemporary art practices from and inspired by Africa.
Frustrated by the lack of concern shown by many of those writing these texts, often the first thing visitors approach for understanding in an exhibition (perhaps even before looking at the work itself), I will be researching and writing up the etymology, histories of use and current implications of words that recur repeatedly in the previously mentioned texts. Alongside this, I will be considering alternatives.
A project without deadline, but part of my wider research into decolonising language.