This is a text I wrote about the photographs that will be in Secret Identities: Masks and the Art of Concealment. My website is: www.priscilaclaure.com
INVERTED UTOPIAS: DECOLONIZING NARRATIVES
RAZA DE BRONCE
“…We all shared five hundred years of exploitation and colonization, we were all linked by a common fate, we all belonged to the same race of the oppressed”. Isabel Allende, in Foreword for Open Veins of Latin America
I would like to write a manifesto, I would like to communicate hope. I would like us to be fearless. One sometimes writes what the soul heavily carries, but one sometimes writes what is inscribed inside one’s past. I would also like to understand the process of decolonization, and try to forgive the one of colonization and exploitation but I do not intend to forget. We do not want to forget, and we shall not forget.
I come from the world of forgotten heroes and heroines. My veins are made of topography of a forgotten native land. How did we produce historical narratives as a way of writing revolution, in times of oppression, exploitation and colonization? That topography is the one that carries the paths of our ancestors, our history. Can those narratives be as powerful as tales that heal and as words that give hope to resist? I am interested in “autoethnography”, as a process of courage and endurance, and as a meditative state between the truth and fiction; in which the only truth that exists belongs to the possessors of power, but to those who’s truth was taken from their immortal hands, that truth is here to be shared. And that truth is here to stay. I aim to reclaim roots from our past and at the same time to emancipate from it. In order to reveal our identity and to awaken our consciousness, there is a thin line among the collective memory, in which the failure is already proven. The only fate that was given to us, was taken from us, therefore we left our rights to the destiny, and our story to the oppressors, showing our conformity and our internalized feeling of inferiority one more time. The acquisition of our real freedom was imaginary, and the hope of recovery was vanished, the recovery of the resources that have always been usurped, which is the ultimate legacy to recover our destiny. The true name of all things is preserved generation after generation and the freedom is not given but taken.
About Slavery and Colonization: I am uncovering and juxtaposing two silenced narratives of realities that meet and connect at the very same start point: the erasure of history. In this diaspora, I use photographic documentation of specific places in California where Slavery occurred during the period of the Gold Rush, and I reinforce the placement and connection to these sites with my own body, through performative actions and self-portraiture, I create a new autoethnographic history as a way of self-representation that reproduces a mode of resistance and celebrates decolonizing narratives. These hidden and forgotten stories are presented today because I want to reconnect them physically within specific geographic locations, which are already highly historically impacted and charged. The ones who have the power to rewrite history have erased both chronicles, and these untold tragedies exist in these images; consequently I am able to transgress time through space and I reinforce and appropriate the ownership of this discourse created by the colonizers and protest against the displacement and dispossession of our real memoir.