Monday, February 12, 2007

Black scandal bag: Camille Chedda speaks about her work


Where does working with the black scandal bag come from?
It started in my third year where I was using images of my face to create works about how we (or just myself) mask our identities as Jamaicans. It was also about being unable to speak and being trapped. I decided to use the black scandal bag because it garnered many interpretations based on its everyday uses. It contains, and I was containing my words. It covers, and I was hiding my ugliness, my truth, my identity. It protects, I was being shielded from people's words, abuse, pressure etc. It preserves and I was trying to preserve my sanity.

How do you connect the use of this material/object to references from your ownbackground(race, class, identity, experience) as well as Jamaican culture, society and politics? The bag has many uses among Jamaicans. People buy groceries and the items are placed in these bags. Some people use it to protect themselves and objects from getting wet. It acts as an agent that protects while being a very dangerous material. As children we are warned not to put our heads in scandal bags because we could suffocate. There are many stories of babies being found in scandal bags after being disposed of by their mothers. Murderers wrap their victims' bodies in garbage bags. Weed, guns and bullets are other things found in these bags. There is also the saying that some women should bag their heads because they're unattractive (facially). These are some of the things that have influenced my work.

How do you feel about your work being shown in the Biennial due to controversial issues that have been spoken about in various articles and reports as well as the fact that you are still a student?
t seems like people are questioning if my work is 'art', because of the materials I use. I didn't know how people would react to it because I never thought of it as controversial. This is the first time Marvin and I are exhibiting works in the National Gallery. It's an achievement for me to know that we're in an exhibition with other great Jamaican artists and we're still studying.

How does something like digital media/video become a part of your Black Scandal bag work?
I needed another outlet that painting and photographs wouldn't allow. I think the video communicated my feelings best because it was straight forward, something I couldn't achieve with any other medium.

Lastly, what ideas and artists do you associate yourself with?
I did some research on scandal/garbage bags. Surprisingly though, I didn't know about the Abu Ghraib situation until I saw it in your(Oneika Russell) solo exhibition! I knew that people were being tortured but had never seen the images. That added more context to my work. I had been dealing with the body, so I looked at Ana Mendieta and Kiki Smith's work and how they understood the body. I also used Marcus Garvey's words, writings on the body, transatlantic slavery, newspaper articles, and relations with my peers, family and people in society as some references for my works.

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  2. Deep!!! Nice work Camille. I have had the pleasure of meeting Camille at the Edna Manley College, and I find her to be a talented person, someone who wants to push the envelope. With the right help she will go places

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