Karma Clarke Davis

2002, 14:30 minutes, colour/B&W, English


"I have always felt different and I empathize with the outsider. In the
1970s,when I first came here, there was still a notion of the other as being mysterious. It was hippie times, and with a name like Karma. it was easy to target me as this kind of exotic being. After being questioned about the meaning of my name from a very young age, I realized people's need to define me: a) as something distinct and apart from them; b) to somehow hook me into Asian motifs, history and religionas seen in popular culture [...]

"I come from a West Indian academic background. My mother studied linguistics at the Universityof the West Indies, and my father was a poet and outspoken Black Power leader. These were strong influences that I fought against. From a very young age, trends and popular culture fascinated me. Psychedelic and head-banger cultures were really key to the kind of trashy
neighbourhood that I grew up in. What was banal to Canadian kids was rather weird to me. Using those fantasy and sci-fiscapes, I could materialize another space with a degree of hope for myself as an outsider to co-exist. Also, in a historical sense, I think that a lot of black artists like myself have chosen to refer to outer space as a way of psychically dealing with feeling literally alienated." -- Karma Clarke-Davis, from an interview by Richard Fung, in 13 conversations about art and cultural race politics (eds. Monika Kin Gagnon & Richard Fung, Artexte Editions, 2002)

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