During Photoquai 2013, 4th biennial exhibition of world images, baudoin lebon gallery presents Ayana V. Jackson – archival impulse & poverty pornography.
Archival Impulse takes its name from Hal Foster’s idea that by confronting the archive new systems of knowledge can be created. In this case Jackson confronts late 19th and early 20th century imagery of non European bodies. To do this, the artist draws on images sourced from the Duggan Cronin collection created in South Africa, the works of unknown photographers practicing throughout the global south at the time, as well as documentation of reconstructed villages and “native” performers that were touring in Europe’s Human Zoos.
The artist’s process involves identifying reoccurring motifs in the original images, interrogating them, performing them and reconstructing them. Her primary intervention is in her deliberate choice not to situate the “subjects” in the scenario. The separation of the bodies in the foreground from the background image is done first to bring attention to the fact that these early photographs are theatrical performances written and directed by the photographer and subject alike and as such are fictitious, second to ask questions around the photograph’s potential as an agent of propaganda, and last, if not most importantly, to transform this theatre into a space where new narratives might emerge.