"Infinite Essence" is my response to pervasive media images of black people dead and dying. Being gunned down by police officers, starving and suffering in award-winning photography. The trope of the black body as a site of death is everywhere.
What if the only images you saw of people who looked like you were dead and dying bodies? How would that affect the way you move through the world, how would that enter (and hamper) your body?
With this series, I’ve set about on a quest to recast the black body as the cosmos and eternal. I hand paint all of the models’ bodies with fluorescent paints, and using my engineering background I have augmented a standard flash with an ultraviolet bandpass filter, to only pass ultraviolet light. Using this method, in total darkness, I click down on the shutter – “snap” – and for a fraction of a second, their bodies illuminate as the universe. We view the beauty of the soul and our deeper cosmic connections communicated through them.
In Igbo spirituality, odinani, we believe in the existence of a “chi” in every person. So just as you are seated reading this and I am here, speaking to you through the page, on the spiritual plane, our chis are also convening together. Ultraviolet light is not visible to the human eye, and so we can illuminate and find – temporarily – the unseeable therein, the soul, the chi. It is on this plane of existence where, regardless of our experiences of oppression on the physical plane, we are infinite.