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INTER-AFRICAN MIGRATION AND ALBINISM IN BLACK BODIES.

ANNIE-MARIE AKUSSAH, PAINTER, WIMBLEDON, UAL (ALUMNI).

The body of work discussing albinism firstly seeks to address the discrimination and killings that have happened in East Africa. These killings happen because of myths and ritualistic beliefs that body parts of people with Albinism can bring wealth and success. As the series developed, I began to question the notion of belonging and the concept of race for people of Albinism. If the idea around Body Politic is clearly related to race, and if race is almost instantaneously distinguished through skin colour and other features of the body, how do people with albinism navigate or identify themselves within this context, especially in a space where they are discriminated against by their own race?. In regions where people with Albinism are hunted, they are seen as ‘’the other’’, so as to identify the norm- which is, some one of ‘’colour’’. Even paint as a medium, is able to distinguish and characterise people through a simple act of mixing pigment. Kerry James Marshall’s paintings use the colour black in its fullest and boldest hue to represent a black body. As a painter who only uses primary colours ( out of habit and to save money), I use the same colours and process to paint someone with albinism and someone without Albinism.

96 // BODY POLITIĆ.

My paintings only refer to people with Albinism in East Africa. This is because, as someone who grew up in West Africa, the concept of ‘’black’’ was not familiar to me. In understanding what it means to be black now, I wanted to discuss how people with albinism straddle between identities in different spaces that they find themselves in. On the surface of the paintings, it is hard to tell whether these people are black or white. What identifies them is the clothing which places them somewhere in the world. Rightfully put, ‘’black is an identity which had to be learned and could only be learned in a certain moment’. (Hall [1987] 1996c, p. 116)” The second series discusses migration of African bodies within Africa, which I refer to as ‘’Inter-African Migration’’. Society’s paradigm of expatriates is often from the Middle East and Africa, yet the prevailing perspectives, ideologies and impressions of migratory movement within the world pays little attention to inter-African migratory movement. The paintings hold colours and resemble buildings and places expatriates may have occupied. There is usually an item that expatriates from different parts of Africa are familiar with, which characterises them and confirms their similar experiences.

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