Jam rocks social foundation shook unexpectedly during the 165th anniversary of Jamaica’s emancipation celebration some fourteen years ago. The unveiling of a long-awaited statue revealed two stark naked images. These pieces were the brain child of one white Jamaican woman’s interpretation of emancipated ‘Africans’. The male statue stood at eleven feet tall towering over his 10 ft female counterpart. Collectively they weigh over 3000 lbs, cost over 4.5 million JMD and took a team of 100 people to build.
Regardless of the labor, monies or proclamation that “this was art,” the voice of the people cried out in protest against Facey’s exploitation of the ‘African’ experience in Jamaica. With a motto like out of many one people, it is hard to parcel out the differences of cultural perspective, situations like this serve as a reminder that everyone doesn’t share the same historical view points or sensitivities.
“I call this a work of con-artistry. It’s out of touch with Jamaican society,” said Carolyn Cooper, a professor of literature and culture at the University of the West Indies who wants the statue removed.
The naked truth is that this statue depicts enslavement of a people versus their emancipation. Their nudity, in this case, justified because after all, that is how slaves arrived in the new world, right. Laura Facey the sculptor offered this explanation of her decision to make them naked,
“I wanted to create a sculpture that communicates transcendence, reverence, strength and unity throughout pro-creators man and woman, all of which comes when we free out mind.”
Sounds lovely and artsy but I would have to agree with the professor who stated that Facey and her artistic efforts are out of touch with Jamaican society. The wounds and pangs of slavery are still very present in a modern-day. Has anyone had any therapy, rehabilitation or reparations for the atrocity committed against the segment of society that Facey depicted in her ‘art’? Silence. A resounding no echo back from the crowd. Just below the surface of seemingly normal everyday people, lies century’s worth of trauma waiting for someone or something to remind them of how much pain they still feel.
Positioned for everyone to see, ogle and even take selfies, the male statues generous endowment drew more ire than the women’s bare breast or exposed backside. Reports have circulated that the youth visit the park to mock, giggle and jeer an image of their supposed ancestor’s emancipation. In truth, some youth have even cleverly renamed the place, Penis Park.
One resident Jenny Francis claimed: “There seems to be an interest by the sculptor to present the penis as the main attraction, when in fact there could have been other things highlighted. There should have been some clothes put on, it’s not all about nudity,” she felt.
In an effort to discuss her critic’s complaints about the size of the statue’s penis the 49-year-old sculptor says she used models and photographs and insists “it is in proportion to the rest of the sculpture. I certainly didn’t overplay it.
Objectification of ‘black’ bodies was and is a part of the enslavement process. The sculptor insisted that her efforts were benign and geared toward facilitating healing, “the water washes away the pain, the angst, and suffering of slavery. She continued by claiming, “The figures rise having transcended the past, standing in strength, unity, and reverence.”
That is all fine and dandy but why did they have to rise naked? Is Facey trying to say that after all the free labor extracted from the ‘Africa’ in Jamaica for hundreds of years they arose with not even the clothes on their backs? Or is it that the institution, rape, and pillaging of a people across the entire west has left them without a stitch of dignity, self-esteem or direction. Empty and alone their naked flesh and broken spirit have returned to an Adamic state in need of divine intervention, for this they look up to the sky.
Ok, let me hop off my soap box, but wait I have a few more questions. Are the waters in the basin clean or dirty? Are they shallow, polluted, bitter waters tempting the thirsty and parched with the call to ‘free their minds’ only to sip of the poison liquid and perish? The nameless male and female idols are frozen in time with lifeless bodies and no legs. That bears repeating they have no legs, could this represent the sentiments of many who say after so many years of emancipation and yet no real progress for ‘African’ people overall.
Today as it was fourteen years ago many Jamaicans are still calling for the removal of Redemption Song statue in Emancipation Park. The old and young alike agree that Facey’s representation of emancipation does not speak for the people; a point to consider given the fact the statue is in the public, for viewing by all including young impressionable children.
One elderly woman who refused to give her name stared at the statue in horror: “Look at the big, long penis,” she said. “It should come down. This doesn’t look good for little children.”
Emunah Y’srael is an expert in DIY Soul Improvement with over 20 years actively dedicated to her own soul journey. She is the creator of the a myriad of self-improvement projects. Emunah has authored to date four books, all available on amazon.
For question or comments on the contents of this article feel free to reach out: @emunah_ysrael or firstname.lastname@example.org