Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Trophy Scarves, Tacky Art: Some Questions About Nate Hill's Performance Art

"‘I don’t want to tell people what to do with their lives,’ Hill said of the racial issue to which he is trying to drawing attention. ‘I just hope they would examine their motives, that’s all.’
Hill himself is the child of a black father and white mother, making the issues associated with Trophy Scarves feel ‘close to home,’ he says.
He added that ‘I am not really black, I’m half black but I don’t really identify as black.’
For that reason, Hill says that he feels like he is role playing when working on the Trophy Scarves series.
‘For me its role playing, I’m playing the role of a black man,’ he told us.
According to Hill, the experience is also one of role playing for his white female subjects too.
‘I just assume she is playing the role of a white woman,’ he said of the models’ work, also adding ‘What difference does it make about me or how I feel about the models, the more important thing is the issue in the public now about black men who might find white woman to be a status symbol.’Nate Hill's Trophy Scarves

So so so many problems with this. Nate Hill has got problems. His problems are making me hyperventilate. I don't know where to begin.  Mr Hill doesn't identify as black, which is quite his right and personal freedom  -- in spite of what his mirror can quite clearly reveal to him. And, I might add that if  that is still not convincing I would invite him to interact with some cops who might be disagree with his contention quite violently. Still if his primary motive is to challenge a real trend of  black men  acquiring white girlfriends in order to indicate their higher social status then isn't he rather taking the position from a white man's point of view, a white supremacist point of view, to  say that in fact that race mixing is  offensive objectification, that this use and abuse is a violation of white womanhood?

 Hill is merely reinforcing the entire pedestal concept it seems. Protect and keep white womanhood safe and pure from predators. Further the gross objectification of the imagery only demonstrates that womanhood itself is worth little without the man to whom she is attached. The racial overtones are very much complicated  by his own claim to the identity of whiteness. He has taken himself outside the racial argument into the arena of white supremacy where he rebukes, judges, lays down the law and of course mocks the very idea of interracial couples

 Hill, himself, is the product of an interracial marriage between a black father and white mother. One envisions all manner of  Greek tragedy and Oedipal complexes factoring into the formation of his identity and this performance art's underlying thesis.  He says that he doesn't "want to tell people what to do with their lives" but cautions the audience to examine their motivations for entering these relationships. Is this a coded message particularly aimed at white women who allow themselves to be objectified by the status seeking black men? Hill's "art project"   provokes inevitably compelling questions about the artist. 

I can't help but wonder if he is expressing ambivalence about his own black father: is he suggesting that his own white mother has been used and objectified by a black man? Why is it his need to  send out this sardonic and cynical message? It's not as if a certain kind of black man doesn't tend to view a white female companion as a status symbol -- OJ Simpson comes to mind.

 But whether Hill sees himself as black or not the fact of the matter is that American culture's adherence to the One Drop Rule will identify him as black. His art project is fraught with so many troubling issues that it's almost impossible to get to the heart of what the flying fuck is going on here? Who died and made this dude the Darth Vader of the Anti Race Mixing Defense League.

 Is he worried that the white women who date, marry, and fuck black men can't think for themselves? Is he concerned that black men with insecurity issues are threatening to the purity of white womanhood?

If black women were seen as status symbols to white men would he be quite so aggressive in expressing his artistic race theories? I think not but I thank god that we black women don't have to worry about him coming to our defense. He's got enough problems going on just trying to respect himself and his own racial identity. 

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