Offerings, 2018 - present
Diptych Iroko wood cases containing 5x4 Tintypes, heated press print pads on black velvet cradle.
Offerings connects historical photographic methods to ancestry, modernity, and their residues in the contemporary Transamerican African Diaspora. The work reclaims and appropriates 19th-century photographic tintype to produce objects in which the Western African liturgy is at its center. The series suggests a a mode of de-representation of nineteenth-century daguerreotypes in which individual identity is at its core. Instead, Offerings speaks of Western African communities violently displaced from their land by the Atlantic slave trade, their liturgy, and cosmology traditionally erased from Western historical accounts but largely practiced in the African diasporas. As a result, in the Americas, the worship of the Orishas remains a common trait. People offer to the to the Orishas, the Orishas take care of people
Each case is made of Iroko wood, the tree through which the Orishas manifest the divinity of ancestry. On the right side of each case, is a tintype suggesting the offering of specific food or element designated to a specific Orisha or cause. On the left side of each tintype, is a pad lined with press printed fabric that displays the colors and abstract shapes referring to each Orisha and provoking a conversation about Western modern art and its appropriations of African geometric patterns and shapes. In addition, this work is my investigation on traditional modes of archive display which for each case rests on top of a black velvet cradle commonly used for special collections’ items.
The title - Offerings - refers both to the very act of offering the food to the Orishas and to a broader possibility: The Western African culture as a sacred offering from the African continent to the Americas. A gift not yet fully comprehended, accepted, or availed.
Offerings adds to the dialogue previously established by Rubem Valetim, whose work was based in African patterns and traditions, and Mario Cravo Neto, whose photographic work aimed to create visual transcendence for the subject of African Brazilian liturgy, and on African Americans artistic strategies used by Carrie Mae Weems - for Weems’ intervention on colonial archives, Lorna Simpson - for Simpsons’ anti-portraiture aesthetic argument and Satch Hoyt - for the reflection on agentic objects.
Offerings has been awarded the 2020 Hariban Juror’s Choice Award chosen by Lucy Gallun, Silver 2020 Fine Art Award from the Budapest International Photo Award, the 2019 SPE Student Innovation Award, and the First Place Award at the 2018 Light Factory Portfolio Throwdown.