I am interested in using my self-portraiture to revise the story of Apollo and Daphne. According to the Greek myth, the sun god Apollo becomes enamoured with the nymph Daphne and attempts to capture her. Daphne prays for help and is turned into a laurel tree to escape being raped by Apollo. In my reimagining called Daphne Without Apollo, Daphne transforms into a tree out of love for nature, not because she is attempting to escape from a sexual predator. That I am a Black woman casting myself in the role of the nymph Daphne adds an interesting layer to this project: to be at home and free in nature replaces conventional notions of how Black women are represented and embodies what bell hooks termed “an oppositional black aesthetic.” My aim with this work is to invite viewers to not only consider a reimagining of the Daphne and Apollo myth but also consider a world where an empowered, independent and serene Black female body can exist without objectification and male interference.
I have been laying the groundwork of establishing the character of Daphne through self-portraits. At Luminous Bodies, I would like to focus on how to best tell the re-imagined myth of Daphne Without Apollo through images where Daphne transforms into a tree because of her love of nature, not because she is trying to escape sexual assault. I plan to spend my time at the residency shooting at various locations around the island, trying out various post-production techniques and then figuring out how to sequence my images to tell a compelling narrative. I also plan to discuss my project goals with artistic mentors at the residency. I am hoping that all of these endeavours will help ensure my work has depth and relevance and pushes the boundaries of my photographic practice.
I got serious about photography when my father was diagnosed with dementia. A counsellor recommended mindfulness to help me deal with the demands of caregiving. I started taking mindful walks, paying attention to my surroundings and capturing moments with the camera on my phone. This practice grounded me in the present and opened my eyes up to the world around me. Wanting to take my skills further, I acquired a mirrorless camera and dedicated myself to learning how best to use it. I soon began taking it everywhere and became a keen street photographer. When the pandemic hit, street photography became more challenging. I was afraid of losing momentum, so I enrolled in an online course called “Photographing Place,” offered through the School of Visual Arts. That course sparked my shift from street photography to self-portraiture. One of my first self-portrait photo essays depicted my struggles that stemmed from living in my studio apartment during the endless waves of COVID. Images from this essay were shown at an exhibit called “In Between Spaces” at Gallery 44 in Toronto. I now see myself primarily as a self-portrait photographer. While I am indebted to street photography for cultivating my observational skills, self-portraiture has taught me to explore my strengths and vulnerabilities as an artist. More about my work can be seen here.
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