4x5 tintype, heated press print pad, Iroko wood cases on an appx. 10,5 x 6,5 inches black velvet cradle.
Offerings reclaims the 19th-century photographic tintype to produce objects in which the Western African liturgy is at its center. The series connects historical photographic methods to ancestry, modernity, and their residues in the contemporary Transamerican African Diaspora. Each diptych aims to honor aesthetic strategies inspired by Western African artmaking that "radiates spiritual energy, beaming constantly outward" (P.283. Visonà et al. 2008. A History of Art in Africa. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall.).
Offerings speaks of Western African communities violently displaced from their land by the Atlantic slave trade, their liturgy, and cosmology traditionally erased from Western historical accounts but largely practiced in the African diasporas. As a result, in the Americas, the worship of the Orishas remains a common trait. People offer to the Orishas, the Orishas take care of people.
Each case is made of Iroko wood, the tree through which the Orishas manifest the divinity of ancestry. On the right side of each case, is a tintype suggesting the offering of specific food or element designated to a particular Orisha or cause. On the left side of each tintype, is a pad lined with press-printed fabric that displays the colors and abstract shapes referring to each Orisha and provoking a conversation about Western modern art and its appropriations of African geometric patterns and shapes. In addition, reflects my investigation of traditional modes of archive display, the poetic and politics of such display, and the aesthetic choices that make such poetics and politics possible. Each case rests on top of a black velvet cradle commonly used for special collections items.
The title Offerings refers both to the very act of offering the food to the Orishas and to a broader possibility: Western African culture as a sacred offering from the African continent to the Americas. A gift not yet fully comprehended, accepted, or availed.
Offerings adds to the dialogue previously established by Rubem Valetim, whose work was based on African patterns and traditions, and Mario Cravo Neto, whose photographic work aimed to create visual transcendence for the subject of African Brazilian liturgy, and on African American artistic strategies used by Carrie Mae Weems - for Weems’ intervention on colonial archives, Lorna Simpson - for Simpsons’ anti-portraiture aesthetic argument and Satch Hoyt - for the reflection on agentic objects. In addition, juxtaposing European and Western African iconographies, material cultures, and aesthetic methods produces a lexicon that is inspired by a long line of Brazilian musicians that honor African ancestry as an element of the present without detaching it from European imposed modes of expression, They are, to cite a few, Clara Nunes, Moacyr Santos, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Margareth Menezes, and Rita Ribeiro.