Commodification is all about assigning value to something. I have been reflecting on what is important to me and I find it is my family, and my passions – creating, dancing and writing. Ali Young wrote about the importance of decommodification and how we need to focus on participatory experience rather than exploitation of culture through commercialisation or sponsorship.
As I started to reflect on this topic I wondered when did money first come into existence? I found it was 15,000 BC. Some people thought it came about to replace barter, but that doesn’t seem feasible. I think it was when we started to take longer journeys for trade and we needed something more standard. How do we assign value? Our culture looks at works of art and determines if it is worth anything or not. For me for as long as I can remember, making art has been part of me and my essence. It is essential for me to create in response to things I see around me or that I want to respond to. Without making art my life withers and I become less of whom I am and yet at a point in time in my teens I turned away from making art because my culture led me to believe that being an artist means that you will be forever poor. The vision of an artist in the garret has haunted me. Yet my parents had this edea that I would study art, go to college, do design or something of that nature. Yet I felt the need to rebel at that point and the proof that I could do something that was the antithesis; I became a scientist. At university I studied biology rather than going to art school.
As a child I dreamt of becoming a famous dress designer. I never played with dolls but I did dress then in magnificent clothes that I designed and then made. My grandmother taught me how to sew and I sat with her and made clothes. I love colour and textiles and have travelled widely and always collected different fabrics. I love carpets as well and have several that hang on my walls. Some people find this strange, yet why should we make beautiful carpets that have been designed and made with love, to be laid on the ground to be trodden on and covered with dust.
I have had the chance to be part of community art and artists open houses with like-minded friends. My daughter Kayshani also organised a wonderful event that took place at the old police-station in Lewisham. She invited poets, musicians and artists to come together and spend time listening and sharing with each other. It was an interesting experience to hang some of my paintings in what would have once been a cell!
Other forms of culture that have been commodified are writing and I am now struggling to find my voice through my writing and poetry.
There is a flower,
At the centre of every being.
In some it is quiet,
In others it is loud;
The shy violet,
The magnificent orchid,
Some know it is there,
Are strengthened by it,
Others are searching for it
Here and there, near and far,
Not realising it is within.
Going on long journeys
only to realise many years later,
That there searching was in vain.
As all they desired
Was already there
So now I live my life according to my passion and try and be the person I am meant to be. I need to paint, write, dance and love every day of my life.