Why Dread Scott is Important
‘’ These are very heavy moments, but this is a time for hope. The resistance that’s happening in the streets in all sorts of ways is a very, very good thing. We should be joyful in the dissent and appreciative of the fact that the people who run this country are terrified and that we have a lot of strength. We need to make this count. I think a fitting way to honor George Floyd would be to make sure that the system that lynched him doesn’t exist anymore. The death of George Floyd should be the harbinger of the death of America.’’
In a time of agonising oppression directed at individuals for their culture or beliefs it has become evidently a more progressively dangerous phenomenon, where a sacred human being’s life is taken away by the unjust and immoral actions by those who wear a uniform to dominate authority. 2020 saw the mass expansion of the importance of social media. Where during a time of uncertainty and media confusion relating to a deadly virus, united thousands to protest and march across the world to support our allies. The uproar of negative media failed to detract fighting for the basics of civil and human rights under the disturbing brutality against Black lives, Asian lives and Trans lives last year. When discussing about this fight for equality it is only right to include one of the amazing artists who have dedicated this fight into his practice for many years.
Dread Scott, an artist exemplifying importance and necessity by portraying thought-provoking artworks relevant to racial history and governing injustice. A political array of genius and integrity by representing societal values transcribed textually and as performance. An artist that must be known with regards to the growing pandemic of racism disguised in many forms, institutionalised being one of the many categories. I wanted to dedicate this month’s blog to this man. I recently discovered his artwork in a ‘Curating and Politics’ lecture that was conversing about gentrification and class in the art world. Immediately falling head over heels with his artwork, ‘’A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday’’.
Scott’s work is exhibited internationally and across the US. He is mainly known for what is deemed as his most ‘controversial’ artwork where he utilised the American Flag as a prop. George W. Bush labelled Scott’s art as ‘disgraceful’ and the entire US Senate outlawed his work. He has since been more commonly known as one of the participating peoples that burned the flag on the steps of the US Capitol. His artwork utilises a range of media including, performance and photography.
Scott is a pioneering front runner for the activists within the art world today. He wants his work to be looked at soberly as a reflection on America’s past and present history. Creating an important narrative for us as the viewers to consider.
Racism is not new. That is the sad realisation of it. This pandemic has been integrated and practiced by many for plenty of years. The difference now? We have new ways of weaponing and utilising racism, bigotry and so on, in new technological ways. It is artists like Dread Scott who continuously remind us the importance of longing for change. Who remind us that although we fall in love with such political works that unfortunately this is the harsh reality of the world in which we exist in modern times. The solution to complete abolishment to racism? Who knows. What I do recognise is, just because the protests started popping up on social media platforms as of recent, does not mean the fight has just begun. It just means that it needs to be fought by more people.
And I finish with a closing statement made by Scott himself in an Artforum interview. The power of art.
‘’We’re living in a very challenging but amazingly beautiful and inspiring time. The murder of Black people by the government is a common occurrence. It’s not news in America. But to have people all across the country fighting back and doing so with passion and heart, standing up to tremendous brutality and oppression, is very inspiring. In the context of that, art can matter. A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday, a banner I made in 2015 in response to the death of Walter Scott, has been getting shared a lot recently. The work was inspired by a flag flown by the NAACP in the early twentieth century, and has helped a lot of people understand that police murder is connected to lynching—that police have become the inheritors of lynch mob terror. That isn’t a huge leap for people to take, but I hope that the work crystallizes it in a way that enables viewers and institutions in the realm of culture to engage some complicated questions in new ways.’’
Read the story of Walter Scott here: https://www.dreadscott.net/portfolio_page/a-man-was-lynched-by-police-yesterday/