Art In America

Ayana V. Jackson

at Michael Steinberg,
33 Orchard Street

Postmodernism meets racial history in these staged images by American-born photographer Ayana Jackson, who currently divides her time between Johannesburg, Paris and New York. Using her own body—clothed, semi-clothed or nude—the artist reconstructs colonial-era African documentation (itself often highly staged, with or without the willing compliance of the "native" subjects) in both single- and multiple-figure vignettes. Included are scenes of the artist (in all the roles) as a missionary with village girls, solitary odalisque, young woman fixing another's hair, proper schoolmarm and lynching victim. A final image shows Jackson with her back turned to the viewer, implicitly leaving behind all of the archival narratives she has enacted in order to begin a new, unforeseeable story.

 

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