First and foremost, An(other) Body is about form and its capacity to be expressed in several environments. On a deeper level, the presented images investigate the ways in which identity may be expressed on the physical body, reframing the self and the other to represent the visible and invisible aspects of being. This juxtaposition, of self and other, stems from my own preconceived ideas of the self as good, pure, beautiful, and, as a result, visible. The other, in stark contrast, is everything the self is not: it is rendered invisible because it is understood as bad, corrupt, and in my case, Westernized, meaning un-African. Despite its limited, or lack of, visibility, I have always felt more comfortable while performing the other expression of my identity. Looking back, I now understand that this comfort was not only at the cost of having to hide my self, it was also an act of rebellion, disrupting the expectations of my body from those around me, specifically, in this case, my family.
Developing An(other) Body has been a gradual process of understanding the expectations placed on my shoulders, and coming to terms with the person I am. Exploring and examining the latter has led me to understand that I am not separated into two distinct selves as I thought. Rather, my self and other self are in constant negotiation with one another. I have now realized that my identity is not defined by a competing champion, but rather, who I am, that is, my true self, is manifested in this negotiation, a competition in which the only winner is the construction of my self.
mami nyanga, 2019, photo collage, Accra, Ghana
She is my sister. I cannot keep a secret from her, 2019, photo collage Accra, Ghana
No one will buy this, 2019, photo collage, Accra, Ghana
What kind of picture is this?, 2019, Photo collage, Accra, Ghana
My thought process for this project has been primarily abstract and theoretical, but I think the physical work does a good job of visualizing the complexities of self-reflection. Creating An(other) Body has been crucial in my journey towards liberation; a personal and intimate kind of liberation that moves past unnecessary expectations placed on my physical form by myself, my family, and the external world. Finally, developing this project, photographing my body in this specific way, and sharing the results, is a form of resistance against internal and external institutions. I have never shared such vulnerability, and at the same time, I have never felt this great a release from creating a body of work. Producing these pieces, and continuing to develop this project is my own daring testament to the fact that, sometimes, liberation and resistance are the same.
In conversation with Reboyah pertaining to AS A FORM OF:
Where were you mentally/emotionally/spiritually/physically when the thought of this piece manifested?
When I initially conceived the idea for this body of work, I was wrecked. I was reeling from feelings of
inadequacy heightened anxiety and a general lack of morale. An(other) Body began as a “FUCK YOU” to anyone
who made me feel inadequate. I wanted to show them just how rebellious and scandalous this black sheep could
be. Since then, I have transcended several states of being to arrive where I am today, armed with a new visual
and literary vocabulary. With this vocabulary, I have developed a language with which to understand and speak
of my work. My body – both as personal and artistic expression – is not for anyone but myself. Some will still
see this work as a challenge, as a “FUCK YOU,” and that’s okay. Not everyone will understand the language
that speaks through my work, and that certainly does not determine the value of my art.
"My body – both as personal and artistic expression – is not for anyone but myself."
While my family was articulating their disgust towards one of my pieces, someone remarked, “you’re creating
work that 98% of the population will not understand.” This particular phrase has stuck with me more positively
then the rest of the insults thrown my way for the simple reason that the remaining 2% is where I see myself
thriving, it’s where I want to live, create and explore my self. I would be just as happy and blessed if only 2
people on this earth understood my work.
As I continue to work on and share An(other) Body, I can’t help but anticipate and be excited about the new words
that the work will teach me about my self and myself. It has been a process: I can trace the distance from where
I was when I began this project to where I am today. Though there are still moments of self-doubt and
questioning, these are very quickly met with confidence that I was only able to locate in/through this work.
In what ways can we collectively amplify and embrace the forms of liberation and resistance that are
often overlooked? The everyday practices, the subconscious acts, the small steps that also feel liberating?
I think that it is very important for us to make space for each other. These spaces may look like [SYLA STUDIO] or
they can look like one-on-one conversations. I know for a fact that I would not be sharing my self and my work
on this platform, had my loved ones not nurtured spaces for me in their lives. I’m reminded of that popular self-
care post on Instagram that urges us to “check on your strong friends.” That very simple act of checking on our
people could be the spark that ignites someone’s journey towards liberation.
"That very simple act of checking on our people could be the spark that ignites someone’s journey towards liberation."