Detailed Artist Statement

I use my body as a tool to paint and perform. I make body prints. This is a direct reference to Yves Klein’s “Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue” performance (1960). In front of an audience, Klein directed naked young women to cover their bodies in his signature blue paint and then print their bodies onto a white surface. Klein selected women who would have been considered by the predominating culture to be beautiful and have ideal proportions, ultimately creating, in my opinion, passive female bodies, ripe for objectification and sexualization by the male gaze.

In my practice, I use and direct myself, having agency and control over the way I present myself and the work. When performing, I intentionally attempt to present myself in a way that is devoid of sexuality to remove the possibility of objectification despite being nude. I am a black female, operating in a country and a culture where I am not what is considered to be culturally beautiful, however, the black female body has a heavy load of history to carry in terms of sexual stereotypes and resulting objectification or de-sexualization. These are the things I wish to confront.

With the body prints made in the studio, I extend the conversation further by bringing in elements of my identity and culture. I use old family photographs from colonial times in British Gold coast (now Ghana), juxtaposed with colonial photographs of white British people in the same time period, on top of and around the imprints left by my own body in the present. I use image transfer techniques utilising my iPhone, the computer and a printer to present sometimes degraded, yet recognisable versions of these images on the surface I am using. I think about family history, migration, myself as a diaspora child and colonialism in the process. The results include final pieces which sometimes look like collages transposed on top of or underneath body prints with writing weaving in, out and around the images and paint, as well as very clean looking body prints with minimal images and writing. To date, I have used red oil paint for the body prints made in the studio to create a strong link to blood, tissue and violence against the black body.

When performing, to date, I have used French ultramarine blue oil paint as a direct conversation with Yves Klein’s famous performance. I intentionally apply the paint before presenting myself in front of the audience. I perform the process of making the body prints- after which I sit, listen and absorb what the audience is feeling and thinking, based on sounds, and the mood in the room. I then engage in a process of automatic writing where I use the energy and insight to write everything I am thinking and feeling in that moment on to the surface, making the performance about the audience, as much as it is about Klein, feminism and history.