What does it mean to be a Black body in a white space? Black and British, an African in Europe? Blueprint: Black Skin, White Mask, the last chapter in my three-part series: Locating The Personal, explores the social and political contexts of Blackness, whiteness, and the space in between.
Fascinated by the construction of social and political ‘blueprints’; the structures, models and codes that govern our society, ‘Blueprint’ plays on the double conscience and the dual experience of diasporic people, where we are both hyper-visible and invisible concurrently, referencing Frantz Fanon's urgent critique of the effects of racism on the psyche, examining how colonial subjects internalise prejudices and stereotypes, eventually emulating the 'White Masks' of their oppressors.
Where are you from? To be Black in Britain is to have your presence constantly questioned. It is to be told that you had no history until Europeans discovered Africa. Go back home. To be Black British is to live in a paradox where you are first identified and then told of your difference, rendering you invisible as your humanity is dismissed. However, ‘Going back home’ presents its challenges, other ways of being made a spectacle. You are an Oreo, a Coconut and anything brown on the outside and white on the inside. Your proximity to whiteness becomes more pronounced, in speech and performance. You are still ‘other’ in a space you should belong. To be a Black woman is to be seen and not heard, always in search of a voice. It is to be given the tools and knowledge that prepares you for a future you have no part in. In a world where the future belongs to those with settled past, where does that leave those of us still piecing together our history? The Akan (Ghana) phrase, ‘Sankofa’, meaning ‘go back and collect’, articulates the importance of learning past knowledge, bringing it into the present to progress into the future.
In this series, I negate my body through cyanotype prints, a contact print, presenting a void white shape. My body is simultaneously displayed and removed, symbolising the hypervisibility and invisibility afforded Black bodies, allowing myself and the audience to assign our historicity and meaning. Blackness is multifaceted, extending beyond the skin. This series explores the physical and conceptual nature of the Black body and its relationship to the photographic agency.