Grace Wales Bonner

Everythings for Real

Everythings for Real is a publication that was released to mark the opening of ‘A Time for New Dreams’ back in 2019, which was an exhibition by Grace Wales Bonner at the Serpentine Gallery.

It features three small books which have collages with a focus on black love and rhythmicality. This includes imagery, ephemera, prose and poetry from various historical sources. Every page is really beautiful. I’m just going to be sharing some of my favourite passages from the three books.

o fling my arms wide

In some place of the sun,
    To whirl and to dance

Till white day is done.

Then rest at cool evening

Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,

The capacity of letters to carry greetings
across previously unimaginable distances
led correspondents to feel as if they were
verbalizing their epistles, even shouting
greeting to friends across oceanic expanses

a febrile heart slowing

We embrace,
The world and I in great infinitudes.

I grow into that portion of the world

Lapping my feet, yet bear the rain of nails
That drill within to the archetypal heart

Of all lone wanderers.

Time - we touched upon it -
Time I hold

    my hands,

    To the calm
It was crystal cover on the world

a gentle rain

Like a black rose,
y o u   a r e   a   r a r i t y   t o   b e   f o u n d.
Our leaves intertwine as I reach out to you
after the release of

You precious gem
b l a c k   p e a r l   that warms the heart,
symbol of ageless wisdom,
I derive strength
from the touch of your hand.

Our lives blend together
like rays of light;
we are   m e n   o f   c o l o r ,
adorned in shades of tan, red, beige, black and brown.

T h e   d i a m o n d   b o d y   o f   h i s    b e i n g

like streams of stars,
recurved canoes
quivered by the ripples blown by pain,
Her eyes -
mist of tears
condensing on the flesh below
and her channeled muscles
are cluster grapes of sorrow
purple in the evening sun
nearly ripe for worms.


It is difficult
to stop marching, Joseph,
impossible to stop our assault.
The tributes and testimonies
in your honor
flare up like torches.
Every night
a light blaze for you
in one of our hearts.

The Essential Sea

Exchange of gold, silver, coral

O, why is my heart unchained?

I am buried in Shyam, the shape of my loves.
Who could ever wish me to leave my loving,
I would rather eat poison than hear such words.
(I have explored his beauty and found no shores)
But the god at last is standing by me.
I will fulfil my dream and let the rest go.

Transatlantic Vortextual Momentum

Chromolithographs in      the diaspora space     of India do more than just echo an aesthetic precedent in a quickly changing world: they are / always have been, essential to the process. The visual theology of chromolithographs in India - enhanced in its pervasiveness - reifies mass-production subsumed by inventiveness and faith. Take the truly authentic ‘aura’ of God, multiply it in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and find the omnipotence of Indian chromolithographs framed in a diaspora space Walter Benjamin never imagined. Clearly the integration of Indian images into Vodun epistemologies, in conjunction with deep spiritual conviction, attests the ongoing, globally incorporative sensibilities of Vodun art and thought.