I like to call The Manipulated Light and Power Series the prequel to the reImagining. While the reImagining allows for 100 women of African descent to speak against the stereotypes that hinder their everyday lives, the Manipulated Light and Power series captures the moment when a person first realizes these misrepresentations have been placed on you. The name and major themes of the series are influenced by a book that has had a major impact on my creative language, The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison: “Without light I am not only invisible, but formless as well; and to be unaware of one’s form is to live a death. I myself, after existing some twenty years, did not become alive until I discovered my invisibility. That is why I fight my battle with Monopolated Light & Power.”
With this series, I capture the moment when most women of color first realize their self identity lies in direct contrast to the way the world sees them. It’s that sinking feeling you get the first time you realize you are being shadowed by the store detective, the first time you have to live through the experience of someone in a position of authority making you feel powerless because of the color of your skin, or the first time you realize you are being excluded from the beauty magazines and television commercials. These moments test your personal sanity and call for the continuous reinvention of your personal identity.
This series of 5 images depicts the progression of this evolution of destruction to reconstruction on a continuous loop. Using the idea of light as the primary antagonist, as depicted in The Invisible Man, each image shows the manipulation of the models identity as the light both reveals and distorts the model’s physical features. The light is used to hide, manipulate, and reveal the understanding of the model’s identity. The still in progress instillation will display the images in a pulsating light cube to allow for the physical manipulation of the photographs, once again by light.
The creation of this series has had such amazing support. I first would like to thank Joseph Rodriguez for establishing such a positive creative environment in his Personal Narratives class at ICP. By allowing me to bring my own type of photographic process to the class, I was able to take the time to explore in detail both the themes and design of the series. I also want to extend that thanks to our TA Romina Hedlin and my fellow classmates for responding to a process that was very different from their own. A huge debt of gratitude is extended to the architect extraordinaire, Brian Billings, for being a weekly sounding board and helping me to refine the conceptual language of the series (and even finding the prototype cube). As always my greatest thanks goes to my favorite model, Majella Mark. Thanks so much for your patience with my experimentation and your generosity with your time.
Please enjoy the images and remember to check the Brown In the City Blog to watch my progress as I create the instillation!