Ayana V. Jackson expands into new territories in portraiture20/09/2019 - 26/10/2019
To mark the inauguration of their new Chicago home, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery presents Take Me to the Water, a solo exhibition of never before seen works by Ayana V. Jackson, on view from September 20 – October 26, 2019. The exhibition will coincide with EXPO Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Biennale.
Take Me to the Water presents a holistic survey of Ayana V. Jackson ‘s work to date, a culmination of varied discursive elements present in Jackson’s more than a decade long career. These portraits and movement studies offer a sense of the breadth of her practice, while at the same time taking her into new territories with regard to the range of her performances.
Ayana V. Jackson has used the archival impulse to assess the impact of the colonial gaze on the history of photography and its relationship to ideas about the body. She uses her lens to deconstruct 19th and early 20th century portraiture as a means for questioning photography’s role in constructing identities. Her thesis is further complicated by the presence of the artist’s figure. She uses her own body to perform the characters with whom she concerns herself.
Ayana V. Jackson’s work seeks to crystallize the experience of contemporary Africa and African diasporic societies. She uses honed technical skills to create hauntingly candid portraits that depict varying constructions of African and African-American identity. Her images have a compelling complexity: They are richly laced historical allusions, reappropriations of past moments and maps of the ethical considerations involved in the relationship between photographer, subject and viewer.
While Take Me to the Water is consistent with the artists ongong “memory work,” it is a striking departure from her commitment to lived histories as she has chosen to embrace the magical worlds of speculative fiction. Her new characters inhabit an aquatopia populated by aquahumanoids whose attributes are inspired by African and African Diasporic water spirits. From Olokun to Mame Coumba bang, from Kianda to Drexciya, from Yenanja to Mamiwata, Jackson is interested in “the mythic worlds we have studied,” yet emphasizes that she is, “more concerned with those we have been taught to forget.”
Ayana V. Jackson’s photographs are included in multiple public and private collections including The Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC; The Newark Museum, NJ; The JP Chase Morgan collection, NY; Princeton University Art Museum, NJ; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; The MoCP Chicago, IL; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA. Born in the United States, based between Johannesburg, New York and Paris, Jackson was a 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow for Photography, and the recipient of the 2018 Smithsonian Fellowship.