Questions to ask yourself before making art about a group of people you don't belong to


(Liz Forsberg) #1

Last week controversy erupted at the Montreal Jazz festival when a musical created by two white artists based on slave songs was set to debut. What emerged was a very important conversation about the impact of white people centering themselves in the narrative of Black liberation and the questions to ask yourself before making art about a group you don’t belong to. This piece on CBC arts, originally a response by Montreal artist Hanorah on Facebook, is a practical tool for artists and arts organizations who want to tackle historically charged subject matter for a project.

Here’s a quick look at some of the questions to ask yourself:

  • Who’s story am I telling, who for and why?

  • Am I bringing anything forward to further the conversation in a respectful way?

  • Who is benefiting from this other than myself? (reputationally, financially)

Read the article for the full set of questions.

(Liz Forsberg) #2

Here’s another great article that has been written in response to the issues of white privilege that were brought up by the production of SLAV being presented at the Montreal Jazz Festival - “‘I don’t see race’ and other white lies” by U of Ottawa professor Corrie Scott. Since my last post, director Robert LePage has since also been questioned around the absence of Indigenous actors in his play “Kanata”. Scott’s piece gets to the heart of the issue, which goes beyond artistic representation. She lays the context for how white privilege goes unnamed in Canada and surfaces some of the ways in which white people continue to structurally benefit from the colour of their skin.

She concludes:
“No one white wants to talk about being white. We don’t often write plays or tweets about it. As author Toni Morrison wrote, “understanding the mind, imagination and behaviour of slaves is valuable. But equally valuable is a serious intellectual effort to see what racial ideology does to the mind, imagination and behaviour of masters.””