PUKIJAM 2015 HD video Written, produced and directed by Quilla Constance Funded by Arts Council England.
Pukijam was originally screened at 198 Contemporary Arts as part of Quilla Constance's solo exhibition (also titled) Pukijam. This exhibition and related events were curated by Maria Kheirkhah.
In Pukijam I seek to explore and activate a constant oscillation and tension between my black and white racial heritage, and signifiers of these positions such as various cultural objects and foods which revolve around the screen in a montage of mind control. I employ this strategy to interrupt injurious learned narratives about race, class, and indeed, gender. As Dr Mo Thop asserted in her conference transcript on Pukijam back in 2015 – my inscription within certain established categories, and especially hegemonic (white patriarchal) frameworks, is lacking – and I agree with this observation, since I’m neither completely white, nor completely black . My heritage is biracial (black) Jamaican and (white) British – and I feel this affords me the licence and the daring to boldly cross between different modes of being – and in turn, this highlights the performative nature of identity, and indeed, power.
Although I’m sometimes seen as black and my consciousness certainly extends to navigating my identity from this position, I’m also seen as biracial which can potentially relegate me to position of other from within a category of other– where I potentially experience a lack of acceptance from both white and black subjects due to the overarching system of colourism which was instigated by, and perpetuated through white colonial rule. An injurious residual framework of this system continues into the present day.
Pukijam is ultimately created from my perspective as a biracial subject and seeks to explore the tensions between my black and white subjectivities and the idea of being left on the outside among a sea of narratives and signifiers - as well as being able to activate this position to liberating effect – i.e. harnessing my position as other to transcend injurious narratives and assert new and liberating modes of being which resist categorisation and control within dominant hegemonic frameworks.
For example - through Pukijam I seek to present the image of the black female celebrity wearing the straight blonde weave/wig, as being equal to the problematic golliwog stereotype. In fact I believe the black female celebrity in the straight-haired blonde weave/wig is much more insidious than the golliwog stereotype/blackface – since the black woman in the blonde wig/weave signifies a widely accepted and normalised suppression of black racial heritage.
Suppression of natural black afro hair should not be necessary in order to succeed, and especially not in the 21st century. Arguably, black female celebrities who wear the straight blonde weave/wig are ultimately complicit in their own oppression - and so the cycle continues.
However, through Pukijam I seek to reveal the superficiality of these injurious surfaces, narratives and categories; boldly crossing between signifiers of race, class and gender and breaking existing chains of connotation in order to reveal and assert new and liberating connections, new ways of looking, and new possibilities.