Poverty Pornography
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Inspired by Geoff Dyer’s publication, The Ongoing Moment, which discusses recurring themes found throughout the history of photography, Poverty Pornography interrogates the links between photographic representation of impoverished bodies in the global south and the racial stereotypes and cultural biases that persist today. I chose to re-present these images as nudes in order to mimic the emotional tension one feels when observing images that might fall into the “poverty pornography” category. One is simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by the image of suffering in a similar way that one is attracted yet potentially shamed by the naked female form. Further, my decision to use my own body, rather than that of another woman stems from my belief that (as an artist) subjecting another woman’s body to this problematic form of representation would directly contradict and therefore undermine the series’ intention.

Maria di Latte [M]atron Saint to Nannies and Wet Nurses
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Faced with early critics of the Black Madonna Tabloid series where I was told I just “look like the nanny”, Maria de Latte [M]atron Saint to Nannies and Wet Nurses was a natural progression. It considers the association of the Black/Brown woman’s body with domestic servitude (especially in a South African context where this work was produced). By comparing the Virgin Mary - the first “surrogate mother” if you will- to the domestic worker, I attempt to shift her position and elevate her from disposable to Divine.

Archival Impulse
 

Archival Impulse takes is name from Hal Foster’s idea that by confronting the archive new systems of knowledge can be created. In this case I am confronting late 19th century and early 20th century photographs taken during the period of colonial expansion in Africa and the Americas. To do this I draw on images sourced from the Duggan Cronin collection as well as those of unknown photographers practicing at the time. Documentation of reconstructed villages and “native” performers that were “touring” Europe in Human Zoos also find their place in this series. The scholarship of Susan Sontag, Elizabeth Edwards, Okwui Enwezor, Jennifer Bjorek and Tamar Garb are also informative. In reading and comparing these texts I have found multiple angles for entering, interpreting and appropriating my reference materials/images. As visual experiments, these final images hopefully occupy a space between, and subsequently in evolution of, the images their scholarship address. I occupy the position of photographer, “subject”, “author” and editor of these images. While the work is consolidated into singular photographic prints, Archival Impulse is at its root performance based work.

P o r t f o l i o : 2 0 1 0 - 2 0 1 3

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Black Madonna Tabloids
 

 The exhibition this work belongs to is titled PROJECTION SURFACE. It’s aim is to question ideas bounced off /reflected in black skin. The central premise is that the impoverished body in the global south often serves as a projection surface for the perpetuation of a limited set of narratives. Stable identities are preferred over those more nuanced. In Black Madonna Tabloid series we look at this via the media. By appropriating tabloid typography and layout I reverses roles and question the ethics around the use of a baby’s being as a site for the promotion of philanthropic causes.

Leapfrog (a bit of the other) Grand Matron Army
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In Leapfrog (a bit of the other) Grand Matron Army, multiple generations of women - from the pre-colonial to the afropolitan - are presented in tandem. By doing so we are reminded of complexity, legacy, and three-dimensionality. However, in the process of deconstructing these varied subjectivities, I am also motivated to interrogate how the woman’s body (specifically the non-white woman’s body) is eroticized / exoticised. To go further, as it relates to the black female body specifically, I question the myriad “caricatures” assigned to her during colonial and postcolonial times.

© Ayana V  Jackson, 2014   

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Maria di Latte II

Archival pigment print 60 x 86 cm