It’s a moment in time that constantly travels and in doing so changes its own time that is contained within it; and ours. It makes us aware that history is not entirely objective in itself. Because we have this tradition that history can be fixed, but these make you aware that you can’t, you’re dealing with a perpetual ambiguity and subjectivity.
Ben Okri discusses the portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo with Dr Lucy Peltz of the National Portrait Gallery, London. Dr Peltz suggests that the portrait was years ahead of its time, Diallo’s identity as a black African Muslim and freed slave allowing the artist far greater intimacy than he would be accorded with an elite white sitter. The reaction to the portrait around the country and the mysterious, receptive gaze of Diallo that inspired Okri’s poem are addressed with Okri concluding that we should revive “the art of great, deep looking.”
Don’t forget Ben Okri speaks at Africa Writes. Tickets available here: http://bit.ly/1aAKIe7