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"Nu(bian) World Order"

Black & White photography montage, 20" x 30", 2011.

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"Nu(bian) World Order" Black & White Photography Montage, 2011

Artist’s Statement

This montage of photographs, "Nu(bian) World Order", is a visual representation of one of my interpretations of the Africana experience in the United States from a Black male perspective.

While to conspiracy theorists, the term, “New World Order”, often refers to the rise of a one-world, authoritarian governmental system, it is more widely recognized and accepted as an historical era that witnessed a dramatic change in the international balance of powers and global political ideologies. Although this term is often applied to Western civilization and its global influence, I re-purposed it to reflect Western civilization’s source from its earliest beginnings in Africa, the origin of awesome empires including Nubia, Egypt, Mali, Kush and Songhai and the birthplace of humanity, according to many anthropologists, historians and scholars.

The slave trade, the holocaust which brutalized Africa, had tragic long-lasting effects for many of the Africa Diaspora, including the loss of connections to cultural identity and respect for heritage. In the United States, the Black man, often portrayed as a “Boogey Man” of sorts, has been presented in the most negative of lights and associated with degradation. His image is often that of a coward, a murderer, a negligent spouse, an unwilling parent and a shiftless or ungodly person.

While there are individuals who do represent these roles, with this piece, I wanted to include other images of “The Black Man” in order to illustrate the diversity of his humanity. My intention for "Nu(bian) World Order" is that it will present a more authentic portrayal of him and provide a truer sense of reality. This more inclusive and accurate “definition” and representation of The Black Man signifies a “New World” interpretation of him and the “order” or significance of his global presence and his powerful contributions.

The subject of the piece, The Black Man, is primarily represented in four different images. I wanted to convey the content of "Nu(bian) World Order" through the use of plastic elements such as shapes, details and colors. I chose actual lines, as in the quadrilateral shapes of the bricks in the wall and the cylindrical shape of the lamp post, primarily for the purpose of contour, when contrasted with the more fluid, rounded shapes of the human subject. The use of one medium, photography, builds a sense of unity in the montage and the choice to use coloration heightens the impact and rhythm to create a feel of harmony. The use of welcoming colors such as violet, grey and coral invites the viewer to take a more active role in approaching the art and the subject matter.

The subject is “captured” in his various positions for expressive purposes to reflect the social and cultural context of The Black Man. The sizing of the subject varies throughout "Nu(bian) World Order", lending a sense that none is actually subordinate to another. While the figures are not bilaterally symmetrical, they are balanced in such a way that they achieve unity. Both the figures and the shadows are equally important, greatly enhancing a sense of cohesion.

To imply space and create depth throughout the montage, I also utilized both foreshortening and one-point perspective. Foreshortening demands certain figures in the foreground appear closer to the viewer by being proportionately larger while others in the background appear farther away by being proportionately smaller. I used one-point perspective to focus viewers’ attention on the subject, further identifying him as central to each photograph.

All these artistic devices and components allow for greater representation of the equality of the human components that define The Black Man, including history, professionalism, a sense of cultural pride and spirituality. Inspiration is received from the connections to others of the Africa Diaspora, most notably Marcus Garvey as pictured on the subject’s tee-shirt and the Afro-Germans as evidenced by his military cap on which the word, “Berlin” is emblazoned. Also highly significant is the link with Africa, as presented through the use of traditional garb and fez and the subject’s position of prayer. These connections are among the most positive features of "Nu(bian) World Order".

This piece embraces a great deal of complexity, from the energy that is encompassed in the work to the intended purposes of the work. However, I believe that this montage has the capacity to be analyzed, appreciated and discussed for a long time. Because of its complexity, with each viewing, one can see something new in "Nu(bian) World Order".

Karen D. Brame El-Amin

15 May 2012, 2:16