Using visual culture, I reflect upon representation in language and History. I feel a particular interest in the ways in which the historical imaginaries concerning Africa and Blackness are embodied and how processes of the cultural construction of identity occur at the level of the body. I work on blackness – from my own experience and my environment – on contemporary identities and the acts of affirmation that they express.
Within my visual arts process I have approached the physical characteristics of black people and their representation in images which circulate in the mass media and in historical documents, seeking in many cases to question the stereotypes that weigh on the black body, in contrast with the dominant Western model of beauty. I have also been interested in metaphors related to power that historically connote the skin and the different parts of the body and even its relationship to space.
I approach the black body understood by ancestral traditions as malleable material and in general addressing it as political territory on which different forces act. In that sense I have examined readings on the hair, its care and the act of combing, thinking about the permanence of this type of cultural expression, as forms of direct resistance to the cultural penetration of a dominant and regularizing society.
My work raises questions about contemporary situations that reflect the manner in which black communities in the Americas historically have been in the situation of the outsider, subject to ignorance, abuse and resentment. I am interested in, in that sense, the subversiveness that lies in the idea of African heritage and the way that in daily life people’s practices seek to link the cultural productions of the black American territories with traditions and customs of different regions of Africa; but at the same time pejorative and stereotyping visions flow together there.
My recent work with groups of Afro-descendant communities seeks to blur the old distinction between the one who was the object of the gaze, in some cases also called the “object of study,” the one who produced the image, who generally fit within the elite defined as “Man”: white, male, European, educated, capable; and the spectator who was the one who had the right or was permitted to look.
It is important to me that art, as a form of knowledge production, has critical capacity and the capacity to put into play new forms of looking and acting, in which the spectator is in an active position, making possible the modification of everyday life situations and the relationship with the other.
I believe that the agency that art has is the way in which artistic practices act on the intersection between life and power. I think that these practices operate on everyday life, have the potential for subverting meaning and can transform the spaces of circulation of cultural production, into spaces for the appearance of the subject.