Ayana V. Jackson

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, New York, and Paris, 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.
She has exhibited her work in association with The Blachere Foundation, The University of South Africa (UNISA), The Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Newark Museum, Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (MoCADA), the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al-Maaden (Marrakech), and the Philadelphia African Art Museum.
Public exhibitions include The Space Between Us, in association with the Ifa Gallery (Berlin/Stuttgart) and Round 32 of Project Rowhouses in Houston’s 3rd ward (USA).
Her photography has been featured in publications including the exhibition catalogue for Poverty Pornography and Archival Impulse, produced as a collaborative effort between her Paris and Johannesburg galleries in 2013, as well as the exhibition catalogue for her series African by Legacy, Mexican by Birth which was produced in collaboration with writer and filmmaker Marco Villalobos in 2006.
Academic journals include Transition Magazine (Hutchins Center, Harvard University), n.paradoxa, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society (Columbia University), and the Massachusetts Review. Jackson has also been featured in art reviews such as Art South Africa, Art + Auction, Camera Austria, Afrique in Visu, Proximo Futuro/Next Future (Gulbenkian Foundation), and the New York Times Lens Blog.