#eye #eye



words by Olivia Kellerman

Starting her journey in Peterborough, multidisciplinary artist, Rene Matic has bared all with her exploration of Blackness through her identity and creative freedom as a queer, black woman. Now residing in London, studying BA Fine Art at Central St Martins, Rene has worked on many projects reflecting her experiences living in a British diaspora and how that has impacted her life and artwork over the years.

Through a range of mediums, Rene has managed to consistently and clearly express her identity while symbolising the importance of political awareness. Drawing influences from creatives like Nina Simone and James Baldwin, Rene looks deeply into specific moments to inspire her work, continuously drawing from her life experiences. 

Here, we asked Rene what informs her art, how her identity inspires it and her black experience

What is your aim when creating your work and what inspires it?

I don’t feel like I have an aim, I think I use my practice as an excuse to meditate and spend time with ideas, moments and gestures... to establish and understand my position in relation to said ideas... moments... gestures...

What has been your favourite piece/project to work on and why?

I would say the ‘Do You Remember Olive Morris?’ piece that I was commissioned to do by Tate and The Mayor of London. Mostly because of the access it gave me to intergenerational conversation and community that I feel is lacking.

How has your work progressed and been affected by the diaspora you live in?

The thing is about this diaspora is the feeling of moving... always moving. And like I have said, I think my work and my practice allows for rare moments of resting within that. Have a sit-down, breath with this situation. If I wasn’t moving, if I wasn’t uncomfortable then I wouldn’t have to make work to ground myself.

Do your culture and blackness affect your queerness, if so how?

When I was in primary school I would wear black skinny jeans, skull and cross bone braces and a skull and a cross bone tie (iconic). My brother said to me that black goths don’t exist and I thought... but here I am. I think that is a good metaphor for all this identity I have going on... BUT HERE I AM. HERE WE ARE. I have been queering blackness since I was born. We all have its other people that refuse to accept that you cannot catch blackness. it is immeasurable.
My blackness is not separate from my queerness and my gender(s). They intersect beautifully and hectically.

How does your own black experience differ from what is portrayed as blackness in the mainstream media?

I am the only person who can portray my blackness and my black experience. None of us fit under a blanket term. There are too many nuances.

Do you feel your mixed-race identity affects how you are viewed within the black community? Do you think it enables you to say more through your work?

Being mixed race means that I have a closer proximity to whiteness than my darker-skinned siblings. This affords me a certain degree of privilege because the closer you are whiteness, the closer you are to power. Where I am afforded privilege and agency i.e. my art practice... I have a duty to highlight this.
Being mixed represents a dilution of whiteness that triggers white fragility. This thing gets thrown at us from all different angles and my work allows me to try and understand how to get through that.

You say that your work looks at bringing to light (or dark) the conflicts that you encounter navigating yourself in a body like your own, what are some of those conflicts that you have faced and how have you been able to overcome them?

There are so many nuances to this experience, some light, some dark. I don’t know if I have overcome anything. I load everything that has ever happened to me into a toolbox and I use that toolbox to build my life.

What advice do you have for young creatives trying to get their work out there?

Find what you want to say and believe in it. Trust yourself, don’t compromise your work for anything or anyone.