Reclamation of the Exposition (2020)
Reclamation of the Exposition (2020) explores the commodification, fetishization and sexualisation of the black female body, specifically through the human displays in ethnographic expositions in the 18th and 19th centuries. The work is influenced by ethnographic photographs which were circulated as pornography. Black (and other racial minority) bodies were photographed either naked in front of a white background, stripped of their identity, or surrounded by random tropical plants to make the photographs seem authentic. Using self-portraiture and digital collage whilst drawing from Prince Roland Napoleon Bonaparte’s photographic collection ‘Boshimans et Hottentots’, the works combine the contemporary with historic ways of being seen. Referencing her Nigerian heritage, Adekunle explores the relationship between the past and present ways the black female body is treated.