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David Kamara BA Fine Art Chelsea College of Arts 'See No Evil' performance

Black History Month: David Kamara’s uncompromising degree submission confronts racism in football

Written by John Wallace
Published date 16 October 2019

Throughout Black History Month, we are highlighting some of the important work by the University’s staff, students and alumni who have been working to preserve and share black history. UAL’s student Union, Arts SU, have also programmed a full calendar of events, many of which are open to the public, to mark this important annual celebration.

At this year’s UAL Summer Shows, many of our graduating students chose to use the platform to raise awareness of and open up conversations about race and identity. David Kamara, who graduated from UAL's Chelsea College of Arts this summer with a BA (Hons) Fine Art made a film and accompanying performance about racism in society - from football to police brutality – and how we respond collectively and individually to this issue.

Chelsea College of Arts’ Dean of Fine Art, Sophia Phoca:

This is a highly ambitious, provocative and compelling spectacle that uncompromisingly demands we address this pressing issue.

Watch an interview with David containing scenes from the performance

David Kamara - 'See No Evil'

David Kamara talks about his degree submission, 'See No Evil' film and performance, recorded at Chelsea College of Arts Summer Show 2019

David Kamara reflects on his work, the dialogue he hopes it will trigger and the ongoing societal inequalities that are all-too prevalent today.

There are many topics in society we just aren’t talking about, discussion is needed in order to push past our biases, encounter new perspectives and ultimately grow.

Randall L. Stephenson said “our communities are being destroyed by racial tension - and we're too polite to talk about it.” Issues need to be discussed!

From the recent racism directed at football players to the police shootings of unarmed black males in the US, it is clear we are not living in a post-racial society. Studies show that people of all races hold implicit biases against people of colour. The only way to push past our biases as a society is to encourage discussion.

The topics that we’re hiding from have to be brought into the light otherwise we face the threat of ongoing police brutality against ethnic minorities, gender inequality and other forms of social inequalities remaining in society. With the idea I propose I aim to create spectacle in order to shine a light on some core issues within society, by showcasing imagery and text that reference a history we seem to shy away from and force audiences to face the truth.

The performance is representative of the self-immolation done by Tibetan monks who would burn themselves in order to get the attention of their government so that they could finally address the injustices in their society. I intend to bring awareness to the underlying racism in our society that exists but is kept out of sight by creating a performance which draws so much attention that discussion is almost unavoidable. The engagement/ discussion this piece will generate will allow for growth and challenge the community to see society from a broader perspective, it forces us not to hide but to confront our racial identity.

With the performance rather than call attention to a particular event, I aim to encourage people to change the way they look at life. There will always be a new scenario; racism will always show a new face, and regardless of the nuances of the situation, racism will always remain a major issue if we continue to sweep it under the rug. I’m encouraging people to pay attention and to go against the natural tendency to ignore it because it feels uncomfortable.

A lot of us have seem to come to a conclusion that we are living in a post-racial society. This is the reason a lot of people were left shocked when the incidents of police brutality in Ferguson came to light as many don’t know about the racist abuse, be it subtle or overt, that ethnic minorities have to live with each day.

David Kamara BA Fine Art Chelsea College of Arts 'See No Evil' performance
David Kamara, BA Fine Art Chelsea College of Arts 'See No Evil' performance. Photo by In-Press Photography

To see more of our students talking about their work and the themes and issues that drive them, see our #UALSummershows Youtube playlist - and check out the Arts SU programme of events celebrating Black History Month.


Main image shows a message from David Kamara's See No Evil stunt projection.