It’s been over two years since the Covid-19 pandemic first struck an untimely blow, and the uncertainty it ravaged since it descended eerily lingers. When normalcy blew up in flames, the world looked to Black women to quench its thirst. To Black women, the hidden figures and unsung revolutionaries of the world, the need for self-preservation is more urgent than ever before.
What does it mean to a Black woman maneuvering a white, capitalist world? What does it mean to a Black, queer, masculine person navigating their place in queer history? What does it mean to a migrant Black woman trying to stay afloat when your home country tried to drown you?
For most Black women, the perpetual lockdowns and incessant travel restrictions equipped us with a contemplative pause. These interludes of introspection allowed these 9 Black women and non-binary photographers to consider the politics that shape our everyday.
As for Lindsay Perryman, part of the LGBTQ community themself, portrays elegantly and brightly New York's powerful people, in an act to remove fear from the expression of their identities. On the same level of intensity, Naomieh Jovin embarks on a journey that brings her from personal grief to the recognition of a strong spiritual connection with her family, while Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah explores the conflicting desires of her bi-racial identity, finally linking the intimate with the universal. It is within the universal that Melanie Issaka observes the political blueprints produced within society, and by playing with self-portraiture and cyanotype prints she critically expresses the perception of her identity as a Black British woman. Meanwhile, within their neighbouring homelands, Cynthia MaiWa Sitei and DeLovie Kwagala explore with delicacy the brutal topic of rape, touching upon aspects of misconception and conspiracy of silence by telling local stories respectively in Kenya and Uganda. Keeping the focus on Eastern Africa, while telling the story on North American ground, Hilina Abebe documents the Ethiopian community in the USA focusing on the longing for a Homeland they try to keep with them, while Cynthia Matonhodze, following an opposite dynamic, photographs objects and rituals of Zimbabweans expats that have been forced back home due to the pandemic. Finally, Esther Ruth Mbabazi embraces both perspectives by travelling between Europe and Africa to follow and document the challenging standpoint of the youth coming and moving from the continent with the lowest average age on the planet.
This exhibition explores a thematic breadth of race, class, sexuality, migration, and religion in hopes of reimagining a hopeful post-pandemic future. The projects presented in this exhibition are a stimulating, visual patchwork. This intentionally ranges from experimental portraiture, still life, and documentary photography which speaks to our vision of capturing the spectrum of Black womanhood. Though these photographers are spatially scattered, their appeal is universal; self-love is one of the most radical things we owe ourselves. To Black women and non-binary photographers everywhere, there is light at the end of our lenses.
Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah
Cynthia MaiWa Sitei
Esther Ruth Mbabazi
New York, USA
Johannesburg, South Africa
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Community and Platform
Launched by photographer Polly Irungu in July of 2020, Black Women Photographers has grown to a community of over 700 active members from around the world. The collective’s mission is to help get Black women photographers hired and supports its members through promoting their work in an active database distributed to photo editors, directors, and art buyers. The collective also features free education and support for its members through the regular programing of webinars, workshops, training, and portfolio reviews.