“My Ghost” explores the spectre of racism that has followed Yonamine through time and space, raising questions about how and why this insidious point of view becomes something that people choose to pick up and wear as a signifier in their daily lives.
This installation traces the artist’s personal history in post-colonial Angola where his family was forced to flee to the DRC at the onset of the civil war. In DRC at a Portuguese school, the author as a young child was forced to reckon with the stark reality of being black amidst white, Portuguese children who have adopted the mantle of racism to antagonistic and cruel effect. The artist later carried these wounds to Portugal where his identity as black is constantly, violently rejected, inspired by a centuries-old white capitalist system that discriminates against the subjugated black African. This installation presents this rigid understanding of race and colour and questions the hierarchy that believes that those with white skin can be treated well versus those with black skin versus who cannot.
The ‘ghost’ of racism has followed the author through his life, through places where he is considered an outsider because of his skin tone, even in communities which are majority black. In Zimbabwe where the artist currently lives, again the ‘ghost’ of racism trails him, reminding him at every turn of the ways in which people choose to discriminate against ‘other’ individuals based purely on a rigid understanding of power conflated with ‘whiteness’ and the complicity of those who are subjugated who also decide those who deserve respect and those who do not.
In this way, the cloak of systematic racial discrimination is something that the artist presents as a garment that people choose to wear proudly as something that is part of them. “My Ghost” comments on the way that racism is taught and learned but also that people ultimately choose to accept and wear the cloak of discrimination, creating an artificial – and sometimes invisible – distancing of themselves from ‘the other’.
In my “My Ghost” Yonamine presents the cloak of racism as an object available for sale: discrimination becomes a product that people have become comfortable enough to see as an object for consumption. It is produced, admired and deliberately chosen as a garment of fashion and style showing that in our modern times discrimination has become normalized and desirable.