Refraction: New Photography of Africa and its Diaspora
Lauren Sinner May 28, 2018
Refraction is an ocular cleanse. The works in Refraction: New Photography of Africa and its Diaspora bridges the gap between Black stereotypes and Black reality. Curated by Cassandra Johnson (Steven Kasher Gallery Director) and Niama Safia Sandy (Independent Curator and Cultural Anthropologist) the exhibition presents a generation of photographic artists of African descent who portray Black bodies in acts of cultural mediation. While not a technically “textile” show, many of the works on display features fabrics, patterns, and motifs that can connect fibers and photography. The exhibition also features works by Surface Design Journal’s Spring 2018 cover artist Basil Kincaid!
The photographs in the exhibition navigate the complex relationship between innate identities and identities evolved from social, political, and cultural influences. On a technical level, these artists are heralds of new dimensions in photography, bending, transmuting, and pushing the medium. They revive the traditional African rites of masking, costuming, quilting, body ornamentation, and invocation of spirits.
Many works utilize contemporary art practices such as performative self portraiture, collage, montage and digital manipulation. They merge cultures past and present, looking towards a more inclusive, harmonious future.
Adama Delphine Fawundu and Ivan Forde create elaborate, dreamlike compositions using sewn collage and cyanotype, creating modern representations of spiritual icons and ancient myths like Mami Wata and the Epic of Gilgamesh.
These images act as flares in our cultural consciousness. They confront and expose existing narratives as social constructs that will never be more than approximations of a more complex reality. As Sarah Lewis says, “How many movements began when an aesthetic encounter indelibly changed our past perceptions of the world? The imagination inspired by aesthetic encounters can get us to the point of benevolent surrender, making way for a new version of our collective selves.”
- On display until June 2nd, 2018
- Steven Kasher Gallery is located at 515 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001
- Gallery hours are Tuesday–Saturday 10am to 6pm