Location: Pittsburgh, PA, United States
"Infinite Essence" is my response to pervasive media images of black people dead and dying. Being gunned down by police officers, drowning and washing up on the shores of the Mediterranean, starving and suffering in award-winning photography. The trope of the black body as a site of death is everywhere.
What if the only images you saw of people who looked like you were dead and dying bodies? How would that affect the way you move through the world, how would that enter (and hamper) your body?
With this series, I’ve set about on a quest to recast the black body as the cosmos and eternal. I hand paint all of the models’ bodies with fluorescent paints, and using my engineering background I have built my own flash to only pass ultraviolet light. Using this method, in total darkness, I click down on the shutter – “snap” – and for a fraction of a second, their bodies illuminate as the universe. We view the beauty of the soul and our deeper cosmic connections communicated through them.
In Igbo spirituality, odinani, we believe in the existence of a “chi” in every person. Ultraviolet light is not visible to the human eye, and so we can illuminate and find – albeit temporarily – the unseeable therein, the soul, the chi. It is on this plane of existence where, regardless of our experiences of oppression on the physical plane, we are infinite.