Healing as resistance: Tabita Rezaire

‘The internet is exploitative, exclusionary, classist, patriarchal, racist, homophobic, transphobic, fatphobic, coercive and manipulative. We need to decolonise and heal our technologies. Healing is resistance.’

This is the intro to Tabita Rezaire’s artist statement to her first solo exhibition Exotic Trade.

The multimedia artist has put together an exhibition of digital art and video installations exploring decoloniality of technologies through what she calls ‘digital healing activism - an exploration of sexuality, spirituality, technology and healing through the lens of decolonisation’.

She uses powerful symbolism to explore ‘electronic colonialism’ drawing parallels between the layout of submarine optic cables and colonial trade routes. Questioning the architecture of the internet, its intersection with knowledge sharing interfaces and its impact on our mind-body and soul connection.

Tabita’s work is reminiscent of afro-futuristic theories and ideas embraced by the likes of; Sun Ra, Martin Delaney, Harriet Tubman, Steve Biko, James Baldwin and Wangechi Mutu. Ideas about the deconstruction and reconstruction of history to recreate the past.

The concepts articulated in the work go far beyond the exploration of the internet and technological systems but also engage medical science, memories of information and technological achievement.

Part of the work grappling with the erasure of black womxn’s contributions to modern medicine and technology reminded me of a particular story. The story of Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey; the three African American womxn who endured the worst type of brutality for the sake of modern gynaecology at the hands of a particular Dr. James Marion Sims in 1845. Sims would run medical experiments on these womxn...unanesthetised. Their contribution to the future of all humanity completely forgotten.

Rezaire’s work feels like psychic therapy exercising the shadow content of the brain by introducing that content to the conscious mind. A meaningful and important contribution to the decolonial project.

This is her:

Exotic trade is love is anger is pain is healing on screens
Exotic trade is hardrive memory is forgotten memory is unearth potential Exotic trade is a diagnosis is remedy is caring
Exotic trade is trying
Exotic trade is for you is for us
Exotic trade is harnessing the power of vibration
Exotic trade is sharing fluids of survival
Exotic trade is wet and juicy love
Exotic trade is contradiction is complicity exposed
Exotic trade is struggling with self love
Exotic trade is self-commodification is self-realisation is self doubt
Exotic trade is me for sell.

Rezaire succeeds in creating impactful pieces that leave us confused and vulnerable but it also leave us open to that vulnerability as we explore questions of our connection to ourselves, to each other and to the multiverse. The show is on at the Goodman Gallery until May 17th, 2017.