The Object of My Gaze
In searching for a matrilineal history, my series The Study of Kin (2009), found me on a journey in the British archives, hoping for a glance into the lives of a black family in Britain circa 19th century. In this new series, The Object of My Gaze (2015-2017), with a need to understand not only my heritage but that also of my forbearers, I enquire about my matrilineal history. I realize that to recover an ownership I had to go to the archives and find what was absent, silenced and concealed; I needed a story to motivate my quest and my mother, who was the only archive I could rely on, became the vessel from which I was to discover and recover historical (re-imagined) narratives. The video piece titled Remembering You Remember Me (2016) is a dialogue that references the mother’s ability to reconstruct and recover the past, that she, through me, is able to renew history via a re-imagining of the future. The video as a whole produces a polyvocal rendering that expresses an embodiment of histories. It revives a language which is then used to vocalise a counter narrative of existence and a methodology of listening; that enhances the need for daughters to listen to the mother’s voice. The photographic series Partus Sequitur ventrem (child inherits the condition of the mother) utalise the call and response which has been established in the video Remembering You, Remembering Me (2016). The images of my mother’s body and my own, present the dialogue of matrilineage, the call for historical understanding. These images aim to expand and reformulate the stereotypical representation of the black mother’s ability to be both maker and marker of history, whilst displaying an intimate dialogue that both affirms and witnesses a historic past and future of black aesthetics upon the black body. The self-portraits titled ‘I am now you – mother’, reveals the possibility of journeying through my matrilineal line to recover a visual and aural narrative of my matrilineal history. Displaying the past through myself, and permitting me to re-inscribe their (hi)stories within their landscape – I am able to declare that history has found a way to transcend time and become visible. This is so that we may believe, not only what is felt, but that which is now seen.