Human history is awash with figures who through their actions inspire us to do better, try harder and reach the heights of our potential. These men and women who have often struggled to make the world a better place are rightly bestowed with the title of hero. One of my personal heroes is Frederick Douglas. If you haven’t heard of him before then I suggest looking into his remarkable life and achievements. In a nutshell he was an orator and writer of unbelievable talent who during his life (1818 – 1895) managed to become one of the leaders of the abolitionist movement, which would eventually lead to the eradication of the virus of slavery in North America. What is all the more impressive are his beginnings in life. Douglas was not born into a wealthy family allowing him the time and freedom to fight the good fight on behalf of the African American slaves, no he was a slave himself. His intelligence and eloquence led to him writing numerous books about his life as a slave and as a public speaker he was unsurpassed by even the most highly trained orator. The words he spoke broke down barriers and showed that African Americans were equal to the European Americans in every way.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress”, this statement of Douglas’s has inspired me almost every day of my life. It epitomises to me the core values that I have been taught in my twenty five years on this planet. The idea is simple, in order to change for the better, whether it be personally or on a larger scale as a society, we must all work hard and push through the difficult times together. In the work of highly acclaimed Belgian artist Daisy Boman I can see the physical representation of this idea. Her work is as powerful an indictment of the beauty of struggle and the power of human co-operation as anything I have seen in contemporary art. Hers is a vision of a utopian society where perceptions of race, gender, sexuality and class are eradicated and replaced by a simple bond of humanity.
Having been involved in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and seeing the very worst in human nature she now directs her creative talents towards inspiring the very best. Her figures, known as ‘Bomen’, pull, lift, and support each other in a harmonious dance across the panel-world in which they inhabit. Bomenkind is a society of co-operation where the communal goal is struggled for as one.
We have a selection of Boman’s work in the gallery here in SMS at the moment and I would strongly recommend a visit to see them in the flesh. The size and detail of the pieces make them come to life in a way that cannot be translated fully in an image.