Ayana V Jackson’s self portraits construct identity and offer black femininity in ‘Baroque brilliance’. Her series examine myths of the black diaspora and re-stages colonial archival images as a means to liberate the black body. Jackson’s work is defined by her interest in the role of photography in constructing identity in order to dominate and disseminate particular ideas.
Using performance and studio-based portraiture, her practice can be seen as a map of the ethical considerations and relationships involved between the photographer, subject and viewer and exploring themes around race, colonialism and reproduction.
With a particular interest in the 19th and early 20th century representation of black bodies, Jackson steps into the world of her reference materials as a way to question the role the history of photography and fine art played in the construction of race and gender stereotypes.
Through her portraits and photo montages,
“Jackson [gives] us an imperfect, unfulfilled, virtual journey. She is in search of the grail of being while bound to the rack of nonbeing ... It is this sense of constantly losing the ground beneath one’s feet, this unerring sense of dancing in a void, which gives Jackson’s art its profound melancholy... “
– Ashraf Jamal