What If Exploration

Past Alternative

Historical research and image analysis facilitated the ability to generate what could have occurred alternatively. The research revealed how racial stereotypes, narratives, and interpretations, reflective of slavery and colonization, have been used to assert the white hierarchical frame. It is necessary to confront the loss of importance of these historical tragedies that need to be addressed and redressed by presenting a past alternative true to the authentic African experience. Visualized is a black colonizer or slave master (Master Baba) dressed in a casual, yet regal, traditional African dress- and a white slave, draped in chains wearing a worn-down galabiya, or long robe. Referencing slavery and African continental colonization (Leopold’s regime in Congo) the narratives are combined into one plantation setting. The portraits take the viewer through the white slave’s experience on the plantation. He’s whipped for not meeting the production quota, in which exposure of the wounds and scars on his back from whip lashes is then presented. The slave gets his right hand removed because he was unable to meet the quota. In the “Pointing left in Ghana Gesture: How a taboo on the use of the left-hand influences gestural practice” by Sotaro Kita and James Essegbey it said, “In Ghana, there is a general taboo on left hand use. Giving, receiving, eating, and drinking with the left hand are rude by virtually all members of the community.”[i] Thus, by removing the right hand of the white slave, he has no choice but to live the rest of his life haunted by taboo. To conclude, presented is a portrait of a slave master and his slave in front of the plantation field. Master Baba is standing tall while gripping on the chains wrapped around the slave’s neck, left wrist, and right wrist with his hand removed. The slave is on his knees to perceive him as an animal and lesser-than. The photographs are documented in black and white with grain, strong contrast, and negative film processing imperfections to portray them as retrospective.

Present Speculation

Discursive design, or design-for-debate, is the umbrella for critical, speculative and design fiction. It’s the use of objects abstractly or intentionally to elicit discussion. Its reason for being is not to provide practical solutions to everyday problems but to communicate ideas. It seeks to stimulate human emotions, challenge thoughts and open eyes to the surrounding world. Discursive provide a space for concept art and social theory. Discussed formerly was Diesel’s “The Daily African” campaign, which portrayed Europe as a third world continent and Africa as a power force through headlines. However, the images accompanying those headlines did not necessarily reflect that. The black people were dressed in western clothing (Diesel) and placed in upper-class western settings. In response, utilizing discursive design, imagined is a world where black aesthetics and culture are recognized as the lead exemplar of society. Moving forward in time from the past alternative, the present speculation is visualized in the form of magazine covers entitled Jarida La El Kebulani meaning The African Journal. The magazine covers’ images are accompanied with headlines and short descriptions that establish El Kebulan (Africa), meaning the mother of mankind,[i] as a first world continent and Qezqaza Bota (Europe), meaning the cold place, as a third world continent that is suffering from economic, education and self-perception difficulties.