Mother Moore, one of the pioneers of Black Cultural Archive, Brixton.
The week started off with bang for me after perusing a written synopsis on “The Undercommons” by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, followed by lectures on the 4th of December in the MAFA Chelsea College of Arts studio space. This week four days’ workshop led by Mr. Paul Goodwin, director of Train, “Trans National Art, Identity and Nations,” explored the definition of the Undercommons, sociality and collectivity that pushes against neoliberal ideologies.
The question on what is blackness, caused me to think as we discussed in depth its meaning and cultural connotations. I soon realized what blackness meant to me as a Caribbean national, is of a total different denotation to people in Western and Europe societies. Blackness in South America alludes to ethos of social acculturation among and across ethnic lines in the way we dress, dance, speak, our beliefs systems and even the food we eat. One classmate described blackness as limitlessness, a perfect description of the Caribbean society here and abroad.
The discussion continued in Brixton at the Black Cultural Archive, where the MA students viewed slides of the founding leader the late Len K Garrison and other pioneers while we listened to the major role they played in the development of the Centre’s exhibition space and reading room. It was admirable that the among these pioneers were women who stood up for a just cause and rallied for change and improvement in the black community in Brixton, for example strong women like Mother Moore who knew and associated with the late Martin Luther King and Claudia Jones who organized the Caribbean carnival celebration which was held in Nottingham.
Later I viewed the Henry Tate’s monument situated in front of the Tate library in Brixton next door to the Black Cultural Archive and discovered that the metal template relief beneath my feet were inspired by cane fields. I was not surprised, since the foundation of my research began with the Tate’s family connection to South America sugar industry. However in the process of understanding Britain’s connection to black history, another Pandora’s Box was opened on a seemingly complicated history of the Irish and Turkish nations, as I toured Vauzhall and viewed Iconic sites. I concluded that the term “Undercommons” was not just referring to one specific community of people, but encapsulate every ethnicity, gender and working class who have been deemed the underdogs.