Dear Marcue, Love Immy... (Letters to my childhood 2017-2019)
Mixed media artist book, Immy Mali, 2019.
"What the hELL she doin!" is a collective of four female-identifying artists from across the African continent and its Diasporas. Common to our respective practices are touchstones, which include but are not limited to: the body and what gets embodied, remembering and dismembering, standing and leaving, invisible creolization, and labour as geography.
Collectively we use "things" from our own black and brown domestic spheres; not to examine the notion of home, instead, we use the materiality of our domestic in paradigm-namic ways to explain the rest of the world. A colossal reversal of knowledge and meta-text production that is commonly understood as happening outside of the domestic sphere. "What the hell..." is what we most often hear whilst doing.
Our aim as an enduring and powerful collective is to shift narratives and impact critical situations commonly long thought of as not being critical. Our objective is to gather theorists, writers and other artists to objectively contextualize our endeavours and shift discourses to a deeper level. As a collective, we look forward to more agency, stamina, and meaningful impact. We wish to thrive in an art world cannon where cross Atlantic, cross-diasporic voices can be experienced with a whole earth view devoid of marginalization.
We aim to use counter methodologies such as autohistoria and cruising utopia to cross boundaries and ceilings. We are mutations, we are for multitude, we are for an unidentifiable identity. With interventions and resistance and with enough repetition the walls can fall and we can be planted within the art history cannons, no longer featuring as a footnote or a special chapter but to be part of the whole book, and direct one of its multiple narratives out loud.
What does it mean to take that which you are condemned to do and use it to do something else?
What does it mean to take the thing that binds you to a kind of mute functionality, and make a socio-political artistic expression out of it?
What does it mean to keep on working, resisting and readapting the objects and systems that bound you when even you have created a new identity for yourself out of those things?
Like four legs of a chair, as artists we explore that which is place, placed, displaced and replaced. We embark on a collective process that is critical of culturally and historically determined norms. The process is not passive, it questions that which we are intolerant to, that which we have (really, really) had enough of, that which we wish to claim, that which we wish to escape, and look to a goal beyond that neo-liberal holy grail: choice. Together we elect to emphatically do our own work especially when it doesn’t fit the criteria of art production. As a collective, we support each other to ensure that this work gets done.
We are sweeping up the universal, cooking up commonalities, laboring the love for material and serving our own in-between spaces.