Presented by the Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York, ‘Say It Isn’t So…’ features the work of contemporary artist Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle. ‘Say It Isn’t So…’ is woven from historical and contemporary narratives that raise questions concerning the collective encounters with the black female body and its relationship to what is perceived exotic.
On view will be work that reconstruct narratives of late 19th century and early 20th century West African ethnographic photography taken mainly by French colonialists. The photographs, which were heavily distributed throughout Europe as postcards and carte-de-visites, enforced the construction of the African (and black) female body as exotic and primitive.
Through the embellishment of these photos, Hinkle uses the metaphor of disease to represent colonialism and the poetic interpretation of a virus entering the body. Hinkle interrogates the power dynamics between the gaze, the subject, and the viewer. Her drawings upon these photographs serve as a means to protect, not to consume, the women’s flesh.