Abigail Ekue Q&A
Abigail Ekue talks photography with TheBlkGaze.
As a Black woman, everything I shoot is from the Black gaze but not exclusively FOR the Black gaze. When my work is viewed and provokes, it’s proof that the Black gaze doesn’t have to be ‘othered’. There’s art, there’s substance, there’s empathy, there’s skill, there’s passion, there’s the avant-garde in the Black gaze.
How does this relate to your photography practice?
I create images/portraits that I want to see. I don’t approach any photo shoot with “the black gaze” in mind. I shoot as Abigail — a female photographer and a Black photographer. I shoot from a Black gaze and a female gaze.”
What do you want to say or address with your photography?
With my photography I am documenting moments, synchronicities, and emotion. I also want to address the representation of Black people in front of the camera too. I’ve actively and passively sought Black men for my “Bare Men” series and that’s still a journey. In 2010, I made preliminary moves on the “Emotional Black Male” series and the same with a father portrait series in 2016. Both are social representations I still want to address.
What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work?
I’m inspired by my curiosity in how people live, what their experiences are. I love stepping into other communities and subcultures. My visual presentation is influenced by cinema and film noir. I love juxtaposition.
Who are your favourite Black photographers from the past? Why?
Gordon Parks, Carrie Mae Weems, Gordon Parks and Alex Harsley. Each time I view their work, I’m struck by it. There’s a familiarity — in the subject matter and style. It’s confirmation that we’re all connected.
I’m extremely lucky to have met Alex Harsley on numerous occasions at his 4th Street Photo Gallery here in NY and introduce him and his work to many of my clients. A couple of contemporary Black photographers who are faves of mine: Deena Lawson and Aeric Meredith-Goujon.
Please describe the highs and lows of your experience as a Black photographer?
My experience as a Black photographer has been one of being “the only” — is that a high or a low?
However, being recognised for my photographic work is a high. Exhibits and publications have been definite highs. So is being interviewed and cited in a couple of graduate theses. And the random mention or link here and there — lets you know people are watching.
What work are you producing and what more would you like to do?
My current work is the portrait series, “Black in Black & White” and when travel is safe and convenient again, I want to get back to my “SHE Rides” series. Going forward I want more commissions. I want more gallery exhibits, more curatorial assignments and more of my work purchased by more collectors. I’d also like to do more video. I jumped into that medium through my “Interracial Couples Project” and enjoyed the process and appreciated my learning curve.
About Abigail Ekue
Abigail Ekue is a New York-based photographer. Her primary body of work includes portrait, editorial and nude photography with a focus on gender, social representation, body positivity and sexuality. Abigail holds up the mirror to her clients, helping them see the beautiful nuances and emotions of everyday life through evocative storytelling through my photos.
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The Q&A is an ongoing discussion open to Black photographers of all ages, genders and genres.