Topic: Please submit a 'visual poem', in a style of your choosing, on the theme of overcoming a personal challenge.
Statement from 1800wheelchair
1800wheelchair is very proud to announce the winner of our Winter '15 scholarship contest. With many entries, this one stood apart for its interesting visuals and compelling story.
Winning Submission: Personal Statement
The visual piece I created exclusively for this submission is a stereogram of an excerpt from an essay I wrote following an artist talk I did at the Bitcoin Center in New York City earlier this year. The event at which I spoke (and later performed) was entitled “Black Market,” and was described as “a hybrid model of musical performance and purchasable artist commodities.” One of the curators of the event who was moderating the panel, Marvin Jordan, asked the following question of me:
Very simple, very straightforward question, have you ever come across any, you know, unusual or interesting experiences as a white rapper?
The great irony here is that though the question may have been fairly straightforward, the answer was anything but simple. My race, especially considering the work I do as an urban musician (rapper), has always been a cause of reflection and consideration for me, but despite the many thoughts and conversations I’ve had about it over the years, trying to incorporate all my findings and feelings in one “simple” answer in front of a strange New York crowd was rather overwhelming. In the end, I was happy with the answer that I was able to give, but regretted not being able to convey everything I had been thinking about as concisely as I wanted.
This regret forced me to write an essay, “Think Globally, Rap Locally”. As a piece born from this essay, my visual poem incorporates an abstracted infrared image of active brain cells masking Marvin’s now unforgettable introduction of “Very simple, very straightforward question” in traditional stereographic form.
While the infrared brain activity obviously represents the complexity of the question and the depth of thought I put into answering it, the seeming invisibility of the text is also representative of just how difficult it can be to draw words out of such chaotic and desperate brain activity.
The essay and the visual poem itself also tell of the twopronged challenge I’ve faced struggling with my race and identity, and how to speak about it in a constructive, positive way.
There have been many atrocities committed by people of my colour towards those who eventually created hiphop music, and ever since I learned that I could rap it has been hard for me to determine exactly how to approach my gift responsibly, without continuing our unfortunate history of exploitation.
Among other things, this has been an adverse situation that has been ongoing for me for several years and has been forcing me to grow and seek knowledge and understanding as both an artist and a human being.