Delaine LeBas: Say No To Identity Theft
Opening: May 13, 2015. 5 p.m.
Is the crisis can't you see
When you look in the mirror
Do you see yourself
Do you see yourself
On the TV screen
Do you see yourself in the magazine
When you see yourself
Does it make you scream
When you look in the mirror
Do you smash it quick
Do you take the glass
And slash you wrists
Did you do it for fame
Did you do it in a fit
Did you do it before you read about it
Identity by X-Ray Spex
Say No To Identity Theft is an ongoing artistic investigation and intervention by distinguished Roma contemporary artist, Delaine LeBas into what it means to be a female artist who is Roma in the 21st Century.
“The lyrics from Identity have been an ongoing theme tune for my life since I first heard them in 1978, as a 13 year old, being sung by Polystyrene a truly individual artist who influenced me in the idea of how you could purely be yourself in what you looked like and sounded like, there was no need to conform. I could be who and what I was while at the same time looking and being how I wanted. This has consistently fired my artistic ventures ever since and continues to do so.
We are stolen artefacts, physically, mentally, artistically. Even now in 2015 we are still seen and contextualised by everyone else but ourselves. How we are perceived by 'others' is still valued more important than how we see ourselves in the world view. We have been and continue to be stereotyped out of our own existence; our mere presence as human beings is a contested site. A colonialist way of seeing dominates the language that surrounds us and many others still, and continues to try and suppress us.
Artistically across practice I continue to question this.
My body as artefact, the object, the artistic site. A living sculpture. The works take place within the gallery setting and on the street.
The multiplicity of my identity and my questioning of this is an ongoing everyday artistic unravelling of what it means to always to be seen by outside positions. Orientalism and it's legacy still infiltrates ways of seeing and in order to be seen a different space needs to be created that refuses to speak in the language that has continued and allowed our bodies to be objectified, highly sexualised and stereotyped.I say no to Identity theft. I say no to who you think I am. I say no to what you think I should look like.
The gaze that is put upon us is disrupted. The 'passing' of being white is played upon and the true historical legacy that continues to dominate our identity is exposed for the antiquated and exclusion based structure that it is. To question these structures that are based in 'old fashioned' ways of thinking and seeing is to question ideas of culture itself and who owns this in terms of visual representation, historical and academic documentation."
(Introduction for the Say No to Identity Theft – Exhibition at Gallery8, March, 2015.)
The exhibition is on view between 13 May and 19 June, 2015.
Image: Delaine LeBas: Élő szobor-sorozat /Living Sculpture Series, 2012
Sponsors : NCTA, Ökotárs, Autonómia Alapítvány, Nemzetközi Visegrádi Alap
Roma Body Politics is an extensive and intercultural exhibition series and educational program aimed at exploring, documenting and making visible the Roma body politics in present-day Europe. The project, which was realized with the help of Roma artists and intellectuals, focuses on the depiction, representation and participation of Roma – and especially Roma women – in the media, art and public life. The mission of Gallery8 is the liberation of the Roma body – and therefore the liberation of Roma people. Roma bodies are not described here as a way to objectify, re-shape or dis-figure Roma. Instead, the Roma body is the vehicle in this initiative for finding specific practices to “re/configurate diasporic gazes into subjects and to invite ourselves to be viewers; to uncover the colonial discourse inscribed in us and to depict it in exhibitions so that it is quasi disenchanted, to unmask the Western master-discourse as a historical legend”. (Peggy Piesche, cultural theorist)
Delaine Le Bas is an English Romani Gypsy who was born in 1965. She works and lives in various locations within the U.K and across Europe. She studied at St Martins School Of Art London for her Masters Degree. Delaine's works are cross practice including mixed media installations, drawing, performance, film, photography and sculpture.
Delaine's works deal with issues of exclusion, identity, stereotypes, untold histories, mis-representation, gender, of being the 'other' . As a Romani Gypsy she works with ideas of the body as a stolen artefact and a contested space itself. Clothing and textiles, especially their cultural, symbolic and identifying qualities are strands that she contests especially in terms of the stereotypical and political ideas that they continue to endorse. Costume in particular plays a major role within her performative practice and fabrics within the large detailed installations that she creates.
A key part of Delaine's practice is the site specific creation of work: visiting, digesting, filling and occasionally inhabiting the space where the work will be shown, and using locally salvaged materials where possible. This leads to varied outcomes across film, photography, painting, drawing and frequently situation performance outside the gallery environment.
The essence of a place where a work has been created is of primary importance: its history, contested spaces and local materials are reflected in a “bricolage” practice across various surfaces, media, times and places. The outcomes take many forms and are often placed together to form an installation which reflects this.
Recent Projects include To Gypsyland co-curated by Barby Asante and working with the artist Ronke Osinowo and photographer Tara Darby which has lead to the new collaborative project with Ronke and Tara: Bound By No Nation. Witch Hunt, commissioned in 2009 By ASPEX Delaine's solo exhibition continues to tour internationally. Safe European Home? the large scale installation created with her husband since 2011 which has been placed in Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen and Dublin will be in Dresden later this year. Delaine continues to show internationally and has recently returned from The Third Edition Of The Project Biennial Of Conemeporary Art D-O Ark Underground creating a site specific work inside Tito's Atomic War Command Bunker, Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina.