Ok so I have some serious explaining to do. I told you all that I keep you on the pulse of what’s going on the Without Industry documentary and I have failed to keep my promise for the past few months. In many ways I felt frustrated cause I didn’t have much to report. We didn’t receive the CALQ grant, I was feeling very detached from the Montreal Urban Arts scene and was seriously questioning if this whole process is worth it. I’ve seen hundreds of projects start and fail in this city and the ones that managed to break through often fail to have long lasting effect on the community and to be honest I wasn’t sure if it made sense for me to put all my creative energy in a project that might be forgotten in a few weeks. But that’s the whole point right? How do you stay encouraged to make a documentary about a scene who potential and success isn’t being recognized when you fear that this same documentary won’t receive recognition? Well, you find deeper meaning and drop your damn ego. It took me a few months and a couple important wake up calls to hammer this into my mental but I finally got that this project has very little to do with me. It also has very little to do with the individual artists in this film, in fact it has much more to do the uncovering our untold history and creating a better future for the collective. I’d love to be able to say that all this enlightenment came from my own self-reflection but I have thank Black History Month in Montreal for guiding me back to the right path. I went to quite a few events in those 28 days and I think they each helped me in their own way but I particularly want to shout out David Austin for opening my mind and clearing the path to my roots. David Austin is the author of ‘Fear of Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal’ which explores Montreal’s history as a hotbed of international Black radical politics. Now if you don’t know why reading about Montreal’s political history has inspired me for the this documentary let me quote Austin himself:
‘At a crucial moment in the history of pre-captalist production, the forced, free labour of Blacks under the slave regime was crucial to the global economy. This process had a further implication: the negation of Blacks as intellectual beings and creators of culture. It should, then, come as no surprise that Black art forms are also frequently reduced to an essential essence, a kind of physicality that ignores the work and dedication, intellectual or otherwise, that their creation involves. Of course, the irony here is that Black-derived culture and creativity – the blues, jazz, rock n’ roll, reggae, hip hop, dance, and sport (including its aesthetics) – have been a defining part of global popular culture and, in the U.S. and Caribbean contexts are component parts of the national political fabric.’
I definitely recommended this book to you all and I’ll soon be posting some more points from it that go in line with this project. I think it’s important for us to see Montreal’s past as a whole and root ourselves in its history to be able to grow forward. It’s by finding the deeper meaning in the beauty and struggle of the Montreal Urban Art scene that I think we’ll able to strategize the best possible solutions.
I had the honour of interviewing Kathleen Cleaver when she was here last month so I’ll leave you with her words of wisdom.
‘It’s important to keep the imagination and the spirit energized if you’re trying to change the world’