#portraitoftheartist is a feature in which artists discuss their work, their careers and their inspirations.
‘Don’t ask me where I am from, ask me where I am a local’. This is the title of Taiye Selasi’s talk in which she problematises questions of home and belonging. Growing up in one place, family in another, and passports all over the place I fully empathise with her confusion and complex discussion of identity. How can you pin point a ‘place of origin’ when your identity is not a singular stationary object? Selasi explains it is impossible to be from a country/ a nation/ a huge timeline of events. How can one individual come from a construct? she asks. This is a message that surfaces in my own understanding and by extension my art.
Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask me where I’m local.
In this talk Selasi highlights a new, personal way to approach the notion of ‘home’. Crucially she comments that there is a way to locate identity without getting lost in a sea of race-related/stereotyped/categorised jargon. She is not merely commenting on the problem but poses a solution to it: we are defined by personal experiences, the things and people close to and around us, our LOCALITY.
In my art it all started with a few drawings of the view out my window. The grim industrial view to some may have been bleak and uninspiring. Yet as my project developed locality and identity came together as one: much in the way Selasi describes it. In fact by the end it was a fully fledged obsessive exploration of place and memory. I recorded every pipe and puddle, but also the parties and hungover breakfasts had on that rooftop (sorry landlord). At the time my drawings felt more like a stream of consciousness than a study of my own identity, but it would seem that sometimes we just don’t really know what defines us. All nationality, heritage, and origin boil down to are words. Where are you from? seems somewhat insignificant. Next time I am asked perhaps I think I will just show them a drawing of a grimy North London rooftop…
Anisha is the Deputy Editor of ART & FASHION at PTL. When she was younger she wanted nothing more than to be a window cleaner, but nowadays she’s content with passing the time with reggae aerobics, making art whilst listening to feminist audiobooks and wishing she could eat peanut butter (bloody allergies). She also quite enjoys this whole writing articles thing.
To see more of Anisha’s art visit her Tumblr: www.anishamuller.tumblr.com.
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