"The Self Portrait" @ HOME is a Celebration of Black Women Photographers
Photographers are adept at capturing the nuances of an environment, a moment, individuals and groups of people – holding space, taking care, and oft-times absorbing the emotions of those they depict – but many are reluctant to turn the camera on themselves. In The Self Portrait, London's HOME invites a group of Black Women photographers to do just that, in order to question what happens when we extend the inherent care and consideration of photography to ourselves. External and societal pressures situate Black women in a continual process of being switched on - aware of the expectations, judgments and connotations placed upon us by the outside world – so what is possible when we reclaim agency, placing our representation back in our hands? Combining original self-portraits from emerging and established photographers, The Self Portrait seeks to trace the intergenerational influence of Black Women photographers and hold commune for collective self-observation, reflection, and the inner dialogue that occurs when creating. A space of quiet, introspective and experimental making, which honors the multiplicity and abundance of the Black female experience, written by us, for us and with us in mind.
Each photographer included in The Self Portrait approaches the medium with their own subjectivity. Across twenty-four images, the self-portrait is morphed and evolved to align with the artist’s unique perspective. For Christina Ebenezer and Adama Jalloh, evidence of mark making is left in the frame – in the form of a camera and remote – acknowledgment of their role as creator. Amaal Said, Olivia Lifungula, Tino Chiwariro, Christina Nwabugo and Ronan Mckenzie utilize props as signifiers. For Said, Chiwariro and Nwabugo floral arrangements are used to partially obscure; whereas drawing inspiration from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, Lifungula sits atop a throne of moss, thus considering the connectedness between the human form and the natural world. Mckenzie holds art books in a reinterpretation of head-carrying, identifying herself as a searcher, a reader, an explorer of new worlds, as well as a student in the lineage of her artistic foremothers. Holding the gaze of the viewer and in close range, Jennie Baptiste invites us in while simultaneously subverting the power dynamic of the voyeur. The intimacy and personal characterization of the domestic space is considered by Denisha Anderson and Ejatu Shaw. Form is re-molded through collage, by Lucie Rox, the use of shadow and body adornment by Tori Taiwo, and a series of viewfinder portals into the life of Joy Gregory.
Here, the photographers invite us into their worlds, hold themselves within a time and a place, and engage in the act of self-archiving. Displayed alongside one another The Self Portrait reveals the exceptional artistry and multiple viewpoints of Black Women photographers. Though each work is individual, brought together at HOME they sit in dialogue; a discursive practice of image-making which expands time reaches across generations and out of the frame to reveal the limitless potentials of self-representation.
The Self Portrait includes the works of Denisha Anderson, Jennie Baptiste, Tino Chiwariro, Christina Ebenezer, Joy Gregory, Adama Jalloh, Olivia Lifungula, Ronan Mckenzie, Christina Nwabugo, Lucie Rox, Amaal Said, Ejatu Shaw and Tori Taiwo.