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National Galleries Scotland, the National Gallery, London, and the Heritage Lottery Fund have commissioned a video in which white people are disparaged as “inbred spawn soon to die out” for an exhibition on ‘Male Gaze’.
The piece shows Liberia-born vocalist Alloysious Massaquoi, of the Mercury Prize-winning Young Fathers, strip half-naked in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and shuffle through it in his bare feet, shadow boxing and making angry, thrusting gestures towards the portraits.
Lack - Representation - Gallery - Subjects - Dudes
Riled by the lack of black representation, he denigrates the gallery’s subjects as “dead, random white dudes” and their memorials as “a gravestone that a dog pisses against”.
“Does this mean I don’t exist? That I’m not a man?” he demands. “Because I don’t see a face like mine, framed in gold, hanging on the wall? Have you taken all the space?”
“Dead, random white dude. What’s so special about you?
The privilege of being alive, while you are now framed in dust.
Gravestone - Dog - Clay
They are a gravestone that a dog pisses against, shifting, cracked in clay.
They are a long line of inbred spawn, soon to die out themselves.
Closeness - Face - Breath
But I am here. My very existence, my closeness to your face, my breath, all offends thee.”
It is not clear why Mr Massaquoi believes his presence in the gallery would be so resented by the mostly long-dead Scots it memorialises — especially when figures such as Robert Burns, the national poet who penned a powerful denunciation of the slave trade, and Dr David Livingstone, the Christian missionary who campaigned tirelessly against the Arab slave trade, are given pride of place.
Majority - Gallery - Subjects - Population - Scotland
It is true that the great majority of the gallery’s subjects are white, but the black population of Scotland was vanishingly small to non-existent throughout much of his history.
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