yesterday, you loved me, everyday, i love myself (2021)
'yesterday, you loved me, everyday, I love myself,' is a collection of portraits captured over the course of one afternoon, featuring Ashleigh — a mixed British Caribbean woman born and bred in South West London, who self-identifies as a sex worker, an abuse survivor, as well as gay, working class, and autistic.
Whilst carrying an almost dream-like haze, the portraits shot in various areas of Ashleigh’s home — made in collaboration between photographer Jessica Gianelli and stylist Roberta Chapman — explore the presence of pleasure and intimacy within the idiosyncrasies of self-love. Introducing a certain of softness, they look to capture the nuance of reality through engagement with colour, texture, and mundane gesture, to affront stereotype and expectancy.
Every few pages certain snippets of ‘love texts’ that Ashleigh has received from her clients are shown, plainly highlighting their desire for her, alongside self-indulgent images which celebrate her love and acceptance for herself.
Where women are often condemned to certain boxes for their choices, the series aims to honour feminine freedom whilst capturing the image of a woman from within the comforts of her own personal bounds, alongside the constant contrast of external idealism.
papiyon, the series and the film, have been born from both a personal and collective yearning for liberation. Addressing an ‘Afropessimist’ perspective, the project ponders the creation of a new world, even simply by way of the imagination. Probing areas of mythology and narrative, it considers an auto-ethnographic perspective, looking at how the black woman can engage in the re-authorship of her very own narrative — presenting ourselves from within the context of our very own truths.
looking to the lofty subject of decolonisation, the project introduces an amalgam of narratives, where - utilising both traditional and more experimental avenues of portraiture - my subjects and I explore the personal myth as a tool for decolonisation, dissecting and recontextualising African, Caribbean, and Indigenous depictions through an anecdotal lens.
papiyon then looks to narratives of the past, and through a similarly mythological lens re-introduces the presence of the black woman in emphasis of her transformation, and ultimate liberation. The title takes its name from the Hatian Creole spelling of butterfly, grasping at the colonial roots of Caribbean existence, in an effort to continually debase colonial notions, allowing a space for decolonisation to emerge. Implementing an explosive rhythm of colour, pace, and texture, and engaging with existing archival imagery from within a colonial context, it is a call to attention — an action which takes hold of certain colonial notions of black womanhood and attempts to reintroduce her, unencumbered.
Identitat is a project born through collaboration with Central Saint Martins MA fashion design graduate Alexandra Armata, which draws on the post-Soviet family archives that provided inspiration for Armata’s collection, shot in Frysztak, Poland at the designer’s grandmother’s home.
As a Canadian-born daughter of Polish immigrants, Alexandra’s reality differed very much from that of her parents and grandparents, and the garments she constructed exist as a bridge to this land and its past.
Drawing inspiration from the soviet and post-soviet cinema of directors such as Wadja, and Tarkovsky, time, memory, truth, and identity are questioned, tugging on the strings of neo-realism, where ‘who she could be’ mingles gently beside ‘who she might have been.’
Through portraiture and simultaneous documentation, Identitat unfolds as a fashion/documentary story which aims to present a fictionalised narrative of a young Polish woman’s experience, through the interaction of her own memories and nostalgia.
The series was compiled into a soft-cover book of 120 pages, printed on uncoated recycled paper, alongside two additional publications featuring the research and writing about the collection.