Chronicling change in society
During his heyday at Dandy Town, Kurt Martin made his mark as a talented midfielder.
Now he is making huge strides off the football pitch — as an author in Ireland, where he has resided for the past two decades.
His book, Race and Identity, is based on the thesis Mr Martin wrote for his master’s degree at Limerick Institute of Technology, where he was enrolled in an arts programme.
The thesis, Race and Identity: An Aesthetic Investigation of Contemporary Art Relating to the Question of Change, highlighted how contemporary artists Renee Cox, Kara Walker, Joscelyn Gardner and Tracey Emin brought about “social change” through paintings, photography, performance art, printmaking, braiding techniques and other art forms.
“The artists are individuals whose lives relate directly to race and identity or postcolonial theory, the aftermath of slavery,” the 54-year-old said. “Each artist has their own technique of creating artwork; each artist explores postcolonial theory through art, through expressions, through feeling, sorrow and pain, in an attempt to establish their identity — if any at all.”
The research raised questions for him about people who felt superior to others because they had more, and those “manipulated” into feeling inferior because they had less, the former Sandys Secondary School student said.
“It is the systems and laws which occupy the mental state of mind and it is here that manipulation becomes the norm — in believing that you don’t amount to [anything] and, ‘I can’t do this which is asked of me’.
“My questions are directed towards ourselves and investigating how we think and act in adversity — the artists [in my book] express this very point.”
Mr Martin, whose Bermudian wife Yvette is white, was inspired to write the book partly because of the struggles his family has had with race and identity.
“I still find [it] difficult, especially here in Ireland,” he said. “[It] persuaded me to write this text and confront what is definitely still a problem worldwide.
“My own identity has been brought into question here, not just mine but my immediate family as well.
“Since moving to Ireland, my wife and I have had to endure many obstacles; still today these same elements are in existence.”
The experiences helped narrow his focus when deciding on a topic for his master’s degree, which he received last November 18.
It took him two years to complete Race and Identity, which he hopes will be in bookstores here “very soon”.
“It is a subject that questions all individuals of all races.
“This is just a beginning of continuous research that needs to be explored and elevated to the masses, this I intend to do through the use of art and the elements used in that art to express social communication.”
He decided at 40 to go back to school and pursue his artistic interests, completing first his bachelor’s degree and then his master’s.
“I decided to educate myself, something that I always wanted to get back to,” he said.
“My wife pushed me to explore my creative side, something that was being hidden through insecurities of myself.
“I have always been creative but lacked the inspiration to do anything about it until my own identity was brought into question here in Ireland.
“Educating myself gave me the understanding of myself needed to combat the persuasive elements of corrupt societies which prey on individuals caught up in its web of deceit.”
Mr and Mrs Martin grew up in the same neighbourhood in Spanish Point, Pembroke.
They left together, for Limerick, Ireland, in 1997.
“During turbulent times in Bermuda I needed to get away to explore myself in different settings,” Mr Martin said. “My wife offered that to me. Her mother is of Irish descent so [being legally able to live] there was no difficulty.
“The difficulties started with the realisation of where we really were — a racially tensed system of consistent abuses. [But] our life in Ireland is okay.
“We live in the country with our three children Kian, Stephan and Alyssa, and all are doing good.”
Along with his siblings Kent and Kris, Mr Martin played an integral role in establishing Dandy Town as a powerhouse as members of the iconic Youth Explosion.
“We were young, naïve, crazy, even stupid at times but when it came to football for Dandy Town we became men very quickly,” he recalled. “We did not have a junior programme, so we went from bantams straight to the big league and we took a lot of licks.
“However, we would soon become the team to be reckoned with and I am very proud to be part of that team and part of that era of football in Bermuda.”
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