have you ever been free?

Dear Reader,
we riawww

This year, i decided to launch my podcast on this special day.You can listen to it on :

https://soundcloud.com/lanaire/have-you-ever-been-free

Please fuel the conversation by using the hashtag #thelans101show or mention me on my twitter @lanairea

Why Is Malick Sidibé’s Photo Series, ‘Vues de Dos’ Relevant on This Day?

My first encounter with the late Malian’s photos was in a solo exhibition in Somerset House. His work did not just increase my awareness of West African culture and history, it also made me think.  Chimamanda Adichie once said ‘ to find yourself, think for yourself’.It was Sidibé’s photos that allowed me to do just that, especially because of his ability to capture heightened vulnerability from photos that explored radical, personal politics such as hyper-masculinity* to ordinary, seemingly mundane activities like dancing in a night club.

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05_PressImage_MUL_l_Malick_Sidibe____On_the_motorbike_in_my_studio__1973_5768006f2c749
On the motorbike in my studio 1973
Dansez le Twist, 1965 (c) Malick Sidibé
Dansez le Twist, 1965 (c) Malick Sidibé

Before i left the gallery, i went into the pop up shop and bought a postcard:

 

It is this postcard and these pictures from Malick Sidibé’s ‘Vues de Dos’ photo series that inspired me to write a monologue;that taught me to think for myself.

The nameless woman’s posture is integral to the viewer’s understanding of his work. She is not just a woman posing for the camera, she is a woman whose attitude seems seLf-assured, who has agency, who is confident but who can be vulnerable, who gets lonely, who is oppressed and belittled, who is objectified, who is watched by the camera’s lens but also the male gaze.

The faceless woman does not need props or equipment.She is her own self.When her legs are in the air,when her shoulder is tilted slightly,when her hands rest on her pillow,she is still her own self.

The woman is hiding from the male gaze. At first glance,it might not be obvious that there is one.Perhaps it is the camera’s lens that gazes. Or is it? Is anyone really behind the camera? Is society telling her to look at how patriarchy has destroyed both men and women and is she scared of looking?Is she worried that her success, which is in front of the camera will be undermined and invalidated if she looks back?Does she fear that other women who she thought will encourage her are watching her as well?Is she angry that those that control the camera have given her bad names, romanticized her struggles, taken away her freedom, oppressed her for being female, created laws that promote domestic violence in the name of ‘corrective beating?Does she want to look at the camera but is worried those behind it will feel entitled to her body and then objectify her? Or maybe she too believes that the media will keep repeating its stereotypes it has of her and present ill representations of herself to the world.

And maybe this is untrue.She might really just be posing for the camera.

IMG-20170307-WA0002

 

is art in nigeria elitist?

and to answer the question that made you click the link to this post, i am still unsure.

tate-6

what i am certain of is that art in nigeria needs to be more accessible to the poor. i may or may not write about this in my next post, simply because i still need to do more research.

i am still looking for an answer to this question but in the meantime i am exploring the possibilities of it being elitist and challenging the notion that it isn’t.

what i desire most is a solution. a solution or solutions rather, that will increase the accessibility of art to the masses.

my second visit to tate modern allowed me to question what were random thoughts in my head.

i watched this art documentary yesterday which i highly recommend you watch too – http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/tateshots-meschac-gaba

meschac gaba, a contemporary artist from cotonou said these words:

tate-2

tate-3

tate-3

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for a long time i never really questioned how elitist art can be.
it is open to many but not always accessible to the poor.

in nigeria, for instance, most of our art galleries are located in affluent areas.

a conversation with my friend on this opened my eyes. he mentioned that this could be an institutional problem- better electricity, for instance, was present in these areas. he added that unlike london, for instance, where transportation was cheaper, in relative terms and easier, in  lagos, travelling to these art galleries(most of which are located on the island) are expensive and time consuming.

however, this should not be an excuse. or should it?should one social class deserve certain privileges?

for a long time i never really questioned how elitist art can be.
it is open to many but not always accessible to the poor.

is it necessarily bad if some people are educated? ; if some part of the population is enlightened by the works of great artists; if some eyes are open’d.

or is it?

perhaps it is time pressing political and social issues which are channeled through various forms of art are exhibited elsewhere.

perhaps we need to start calling the phone numbers of artists whose sculptures and murals and paintings of politicians and celebrities are displayed on the roadside.perhaps they need to be encouraged too.

i am aware that solving this issue, that is if art in nigeria is elitist is  easier said than done but i think more people need to be aware that art is important.people other than you and i who can afford to visit galleries and take pictures of themselves with art.if art in nigeria is indeed elitist, how can we encourage more people to take up art(broadly speaking )if they are not exposed to any at all?

would love to hear your comments.

please email me on lanaireaderemi@gmail.com or mention/message me on my twitter @lanairea

yellow attracts flies

*you can watch my second performance on my youtube channel:

 

and in shackles, their hands and legs were in

the trans-atlantic trade is what they called her his-story

this is a story of the artfulness of neo-colonialism insinuation,

this is a poem by verse writer of black men and women cramped up in boats and given food that gave them constipation,

this is a song with echoes of fela kuti, thomas sankara and kwame nkrumah that still retells itself,

because our Africa, our Nigeria, is still at the bottom of book shelves ,

she still yearns to resist the forces of a new capitalist imperialism

and the thrust from the womb of neo-colonialism

pause

the social enemies of poverty, illiteracy and hunger are winning the war

this is brought to you by means of:

economic penetration

wait, there’s more

cultural assimilation

ideological domination

psychological infiltration

play

the shackles are in our minds and they are reluctant to cut their umbilical chords ,

the stereotypes, the status quo, the obstacles, the challenges ,that emerged from imperialist mothers of:

‘you are too young to be a business lord’

‘and woman, remember frailty is your name

the creator made you the weaker being so you should never aspire to inspire

and follow the leader because the childhood song said so’

‘and man, you are biologically predisposed to be strong so never(ever) be vulnerable -chest that pain!’

‘and child: the system is designed for you to succeed so make sure you keep that tunnel visioned mindset-it will save you’

stop

and they thought they took our pride

by changing our names to numbers.

 

 

pregnancy discrimination:patriarchal characters in the workplace strike yet again

Pregnancy is a proxy for gender, and therefore, discrimination against pregnancy is discrimination against women.[1]

In 2015, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published the first findings of their jointly commissioned research into pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the UK. While the research showed evidence of good employer attitudes towards, and treatment of, new and expectant mothers, there were also some very worrying results. One of the most shocking findings was that discrimination had increased since similar research by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in 2005, with more women now being made redundant or feeling forced to leave their job than a decade ago. Another was that more than three quarters of the women surveyed had experienced a negative or potentially discriminatory experience as a result of their pregnancy or maternity[2]

Yesterday, I began my law internship in ‘one of the very few legal firms in the UK that specialises in employment law for individuals’[3] Since one of my heart’s desires is  to pursue a career in women’s rights and possibly legislative advocacy , and I was going to be working in an employment law firm, I had ruled out the possibility of reviewing any laws that fail to protect and promote the rights of women, nevertheless,  I was excited to expand my legal vocabulary and abandon my favourite legal phrase, ‘feminist jurisprudence’ for the time being. My mum’s advice to be open minded on my first day of work and my compliance, was rewarded at 12.45 pm, fifteen minutes before an anticipated journey to Starbucks to satisfy my craving for a chocolate chip muffin, when I was asked by solicitors at the law firm to do some research on pregnancy discrimination in the UK.

I had always associated craving with pregnancy but had never imagined that ‘pregnancy’ and ‘discrimination’ could be words put side by side. It was no surprise that my pulse rate increased and I expressed a similar shock to the second word of the headline (below) which I saw on my twitter moments linking me to today’s Parliament News:

 ‘Stop shocking workplace discrimination of pregnant women, say MPs’

Although ‘Equality Act 2010’ makes it unlawful to discriminate, or treat employees unfavourably because of their pregnancy, or because they have given birth recently, are breastfeeding or on maternity leave, pregnancy discrimination is still very common with three out of four mothers reporting experienced discrimination in the workplace, during their pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work.

So why has the number of women forced to leave their job because of pregnancy discrimination doubled over the past decade to 54,000?

Why have 1 in 9 working mums been dismissed, made compulsorily redundant or treated so badly they had to leave?

Why was the #PowertotheBump created to unite young mothers who are significantly more likely to experience pregnancy and maternity discrimination with six times as many under 25 year olds than average reporting being dismissed from their jobs after they tell their employer they are pregnant?[4]

Why are statements like ‘I was bullied and harassed because of reasons such as pleas to get time off for ante-natal appointments’ or ‘My contract ended when I told my boss I was pregnant’ relatable to 1 in 5 women in the country?’

Have employers forgotten to promote family friendly workplaces, effective management and open communication despite their knowledge of the Acas statutory Code of Practice to prevent discrimination in recruitment, pay, training and development, selection for promotion, discipline and grievances and redundancy selection[5] ?

Or isn’t it simply because patriarchal members of the workplace and the society are okay with women being forced to choose between having their jobs and protecting their health? (career vs family)

Maybe it is time the government adopt the German style system which could ban companies from making women redundant during and after pregnancy. We cannot keep waiting for the government to create robust frameworks and detailed plans with concrete targets to tackle this issue. Like the MPs stated, there is urgent need for employers to review their health and safety practices and policies concerning ante-natal appointments and, most importantly to increase protection for casual agency and zero-hours workers.

Despite past efforts to increase women’s access to justice and foster a responsive justice system that advances women’s rights, the rule of law still, often rules women out.[6] So is the fifth recommendation of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, ’improving access to justice’ counter-productive? To answer what was partially a rhetorical question, is it not absurd that 77% of women reported potentially discriminatory or negative experiences yet 28% discussed this with their employer? Is it not even more shocking that only 3% went through their employer’s internal grievance procedure and less than 1% went to Employment Tribunal? In my opinion, changes need to be made to the Employment tribunal fee system and an increase in the time limit for a woman’s claim in cases involving pregnancy and maternity discrimination from three to six months needs to be urgently considered.

The Women and Equalities Committee Chair, Maria Miller’s comment that the economy will suffer unless employers modernise their workplace practices to ensure effective support and protection for expectant and new mums is a wakeup call for all. But guess who else suffers?

Yes, the NHS.

If women are denied their rights and continue to be discriminated against, they are likely to have high levels of stress, anxiety and depression which according to Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, could negatively impact women’s health and have devastating effects on their babies hence ,costly implications for the NHS.[7]

So what else can we do? Since 84% of employers believe that supporting pregnant workers and those on maternity leave is in the interests of their organisation, it is only fair that employers improve their practice and health and safety procedures as mentioned. The government needs to also show leadership for change by working with employers to create family friendly working conditions and improve access to information, advice and justice whilst monitoring progress to track the pace of change through surveys and research to ensure that pregnancy discrimination is reduced.

But most importantly, we must put the patriarchal members of the workplace to shame so they do not strike again.

 

[1] The Honorable Judges Kanne,Wood & Evans

Griffin v. Sisters of Saint Franics,Including.,489 F.3d 838(7TH Cir. 2007)

[2] http://www.parliament.uk

[3] http://www.landaulaw.co.uk/about

[4] http://www.equalityhumanrights.com

[5] http://www.acas.org.uk

[6] unwomen.org

[7] huffingtonpost.co.uk

 

 

yellow attracts flies*

dear reader,

thank you so much for your support since my blog’s inception.

i am currently in lagos,nigeria and shall be performing for the first time at lucid lemon’s lemon curd event.

it will mean the world to mean if you could come to support me or show any support in any way you can.

my performance will be recorded and i shall it have up on my blog in no less than a week.

-have a blessed rest of the week

lanaire.lucid