Blotted line technique, Hand-painting, Ink
23 × 16 × 0.8 in
College of Saint Benedict & Saint John's University
Herzog August Bibiothek
Library of Congress (LoC)
University of California, Irvine (UCI)
University of Connecticut (UCONN)
University of Delaware Library
University of Miami
University of Puget Sound
“Wetrocities focuses on the construction and implantation of the ‘white’ identity. A child can get complimented for their good behavior or punished for the same good behavior. When implementing identities it depends to whom the behavior is addressed. Being praised or being punished is the very moment one chooses to comply or rebel. One results in being loyal and complicit to a group’s behavior; the other in the loss of love and social ‘death’ (best expressed in James Baldwin’s Blues for Mr. Charlie), a sometimes life-long struggle of being an outcast and ‘Nestbeschmutzer’, a traitor to their ‘own’.
Any deviation from this racial identity concept bears the possibility of being branded as a ‘rootless cosmopolitan’, as a ‘parasite within “healthy national bodies”‘, terms that Hitler as well as Stalin have used and can be equally heard in today’s political climate. All of us who aren’t an ‘out & proud’ racist, a self-aware white nationalist, live with these unaware and often murky implantations of those constructed identities through our upbringings.
In Wetrocities, after the implantation of a ‘white’ identity, I ask what happens when one relates to others, to ‘the other’. How do we then enter the space of collective memory? And finally, how do we (choose to) exit?
I meet people. They tell me their stories. Mostly elders who no longer care if and how their stories will be judged. It seems more important to talk about happenings that for too long were shushed away, met with disbelief or indifference, or tabooed. Wetrocitiesis about collective memory and love. About daring. Maybe. Maybe about daring. It’s about love and dare. They meet in the halls of collective memory.” — Beldan Sezen, artist.
Newspaper painted in white printers ink, ink transferred onto page with onion skin (line-blotting), includes hand-drawn elements and handwriting.
I must have been about four when I dropped my doll onto the streets of my hometown.
An elderly man would pick it up and hand it back to me.
Thank you, sir! I was told by my parents to always be polite.
Only this time my parents told me otherwise.
Once back home I was spanked for calling him “Sir.”
You see . . . he was not ‘we,’
and you never say “Sir” to a ‘colored’ person.
I was corrected to never forget.
I was to stay the perpetual brat.
When I got angry you were my punching bag.
When I was bored, you were my entertainment.
I promised you equality like a carrot on a stick in front of your nose.
Your desperation proved my superiority.
Don’t you remember my sweet little child, the times when I abused you, misused you, used you, used you,
So that you can serve me right?
The day I called you “Sir’ faded. What lingered was some ‘unjust’ pain.
Without memory. Asking to be vindicated.
“They” became such an easy thing to say to put me in my place.
To fill this nagging emptiness when I felt left behind.
A lifetime later,
Every day on my way home we greet each other. The first time: I remember it very much, you sitting on that bench-I was taken away by your face. You wouldn’t be anything but a sweetie! Since that day we keep an eye on each other, caring.
It’s the intimacy of the streets where we share our life stories.
I’m affected, yes.
But how can I be?
I don’t wish to put us through the pain of what I made me become.
See I’m still protecting me.
It took me a lifetime to understand my helpful politeness to ease your pain as ignorance.
To listen to you, to grant you my ear, to grant me your heart means to connect with my atrocities.
The corruption I complied with, all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit.
OVER & OVER
AGAIN AND AGAIN
I thought I would lose everything dear when the slapping hand struck.
The shame I felt after I called you “Sir”.
It was easier to betray myself.
What am I but a painful reminder of someone once beautiful and kind?