Keywords: Healing, Video, Identity
Anke Sondi (27) is a digital artist and graphic designer, born and raised in Cameroon by an Cameroonian mother and a German Father. At the age of 12, her family migrated to Germany. This departure was a real culture shock and reflects the moment she became aware of her blackness. Torn between wanting to assimilate or going back, she became increasingly interested in that in-between space that a lot of people living in the diaspora navigate in. As a woman and as a woman of colour, she has always been interested in questions of equality, power and representation. These key concepts are always represented in her work and form the basis of her artistic practice.
Her work primarily evolves around the use of new technologies as a tool for investigating and story telling –with a primary focus on 3D– whilst simultaneously contrasting them with very analogue techniques such as ceramics and silkscreen. In her work she explores the concept of world building outside of white patriarchy that embeds creative visions of the future in the realities of the present and in relation with the past. Situated somewhere in the hyperspace, her work navigates between multiple worlds and realities, constructing new landscape of possibilities and exploring new modes of being.
Places of Belonging explores the formation of identity in mobility by questioning the notion of ‘home’. It is a ritual space aimed at healing the psychic wound caused by the loss of home and the feeling of displacement.
‘Home’, both as a geographical location and as a metaphorical place of belonging, is a common thread within diasporic communities. As an identity migrant, Anke Sondi accesses time (childhood) and space (Cameroon) to gather fragments of her journey and define key aspects of her diasporic identity. Inspired by rituals performed in her homeland, these elements are then embodied as spirits inhabiting masks that perform a ritual of healing.
From the moment you are born, you enter a system already defined and put in place by those who came before you. Since the beginning, you are taught the rules and ways of being in order to strive within this system. When I entered this world, born in a “former” colony of France, from a father born and raised in Germany, western society as a system and its ideologies has always been part of my construction.
In this thesis, western society takes on the form of a house: a house with the promise of hybridity and equality that in my opinion has yet to be reached. In this house, white remains ascendant while the others –the non-white– struggle to establish their place. Through this arises the importance to talk about “White” as a race or non-race, as a colour or the lack thereof, as invisible but at the same time representative of all. How can we achieve true hybridity without white supremacy?
This thesis is a deconstruction of the house as an act of marking: making the invisible visible. It’s an exploration of the many nuances of white that define the foundation of the house. I start by identifying the processes that have transformed the house into a place of comfort for white by looking at its violent expansion and how it became naturalised. I will then proceed to identify the methods used to reinforce the status quo including the use of mass media, an array of defence mechanisms that render discussion about race difficult and superfluous and technologies that erase non-white bodies from our imagined future.
Parallel to this deconstruction of white, this thesis explores the act of disobedience: The disruption of whiteness and the system put in place through the lens of artists that have aimed to do just that. This part is about reclaiming the space and transforming it into a place where multiple identities and non-white bodies can flourish. By confronting the status quo with works that refuse to be part of it, this thesis takes you on a journey of learning and unlearning. The aim is to identify the status quo in order to move away from it and facilitate the designing of a future of true hybridity without white supremacy.