Ayana V. Jackson’s work examines the complexities of photographic representation and the role of the camera in constructing identity. Using performance and studio-based portraiture, her practice can be seen as a map of the ethical considerations and relationships involved between the photographer, subject, and viewer.
With a particular interest in the 19th and early 20th century representation of Black bodies, Jackson steps into the world of her reference materials as a way to question the role of the history of photography and fine art played in the construction of race and gender stereotype.
Through her portraits and photo montages, “Jackson [gives] us an imperfect, unfulfilled, virtual journey. She is in search of the grail of being while bound to the rack of non-being… It is this sense of constantly losing the ground beneath one’s feet, this unerring sense of dancing in a void, which gives Jackson’s art its profound melancholy…” remarks Ashraf Jamal.
Born in the US and based between Johannesburg and New York, Jackson was a 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow for Photography, and the recipient of the 2018 National Black Arts Festival’s Fine Art and Fashion Award and has received grants from the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Inter America Foundation, US State Department, as well as the French Institute, the latter supporting her participation in the 2009 Bamako African Photography Biennial.