Elegant Portraits by Ayana V. Jackson Are Inspired by African Diasporic Mythology

“The Rupture Was the Story” (2019), all images © Ayana V. Jackson, courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

In a new photographic series artist Ayana V. Jackson explores the colonial gaze and historical portraiture traditions. Figures, all played by Jackson herself, appear in classical poses, draped in fishing nets, glittering flip-flops, and elegant Western gowns of years past. Each figure is inspired by African and African Disaporic water spirits including Olokun, Mame Coumba bang, Kianda, Drexciya, Yenanja and Mamiwata.

A statement from Mariane Ibrahim Gallery explains, “Jackson has used the archival impulse to assess the impact of the colonial gaze on the history of photography and its relationship to ideas about the body. She uses her lens to deconstruct 19th and early 20th century portraiture as a means for questioning photography’s role in constructing identities.”

The artist, who is based between New York, Hong Kong, and Johannesburg, also had a solo show this year at David Klein Gallery in Detroit. Her work has been collected by the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Detroit Institute of Art, Museum of African Contemporary Art Al-Maaden in Marrakesh, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. Jackson was the 2018 recipient of the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

This body of work is on view from September 20 – October 26, 2019 in Jackson’s solo show, Take Me to the Water. The exhibition is at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, which recently relocated from Seattle to Chicago. See more of Jackson’s photography on her website and Instagram. (via Artsy)

“Consider the Sky and the Sea” (2019)

“Sighting in the Abyss II” (2019)

“Sea Lion” (2019)

“Serene II” (2019)