Hide and Seek’s objective is to address the deeply embedded and ongoing challenges of race and social inequity that effect young people in three global communities: Brixton, England; Harlem, NY; and Cape Town, South Africa.
Each of these communities have suffered and (to a degree) overcome civil rights struggles towards the end of the last century; yet, with the recent riots in London, political corruption in South Africa, and Obama having been elected president but under the greatest class chasm in US history; it is difficult to gauge levels of progress in race relations and social equality. The task of building a new social narrative becomes increasingly hard when the older iconic narratives of civil/class rights are still very much present in contemporary culture.
What are the Arts (literature, visual, and performance) depicting in their narratives about injustice, activism, and posterity in these communities? What ideas from these narratives can we draw about the climate of race and class today. And finally, what stories can be told subsequently that may improve the quality of life for young people in these global communities?
A lack of exposure to information, art, and the world has long been a hindrance to empowering young, marginalized individuals; and each of these global communities is rich in culture, ready to be utilized as a source for greater narratives.
We first seek to expose a group of young people (3 in each city, ages 13-15) to a common mixed media curriculum of artwork indigenous to all of these continents. These pieces will have narratives that directly address the issues of race and social inequity. We may read some of Baldwin’s most staggering depictions of Harlem, or take a look at Kara Walker’s older silhouettes along with her more recent text work. We could read Tales of Freedom, by Ben Okri, watch video commentary of the riots in England, or see a play by Athol Fugard. The curriculum would be very discussion/reading/writing/immersion based.
Nico and I, as facilitators, would spend a week at each site, exposing the students to local galleries, theater, museums, and the cross-cultural curriculum. We would ask the students about their reactions to the texts, etc. and extract personal narratives and social implications from the pieces provide. We would then video chat once a week between Brixton, Cape Town, and Harlem to connect our students to each other and the world, and discuss the greater themes in the art we saw that week. Ultimataely, our hope is that we facilitate an environment where these students across the world can become investigators of race inequities through art and also, use various mediums (writing, paint, dance, theater) to then create their own narratives. These student narratives would be posted and permanently displayed on a Hide and Seek website, along with video impressions and blog entries on the art we’ve viewed.
Our hope is that exposure to the world will expand our student’s concepts of what is possible in terms of social injustice. They would see two other sides of the same race/class related problem and in various stages of progress. They will also see how art has the ability to draw from/obliterate old stories and create new ones.
The commonalities between England, South Africa, and America in terms of race relations are rich sources of education that have yet to be fully explored, especially in the artwork following major civil rights struggles in each of these areas.