Monday, May 25, 2015

Desire & Disgust (redux, 2015): #10

Dana Davenport is a New York City based artist studying at the School of Visual Arts. Using video and photography, her work both questions and analyzes identity and sexuality. Dana also looks at the role that the female form plays in society, within various cultural contexts. She comes to such work through a fearless and courageous assessment of herself through her art, giving her the ability to begin appraising ‘Black Kate’, one of the most difficult images that an artist could take on in the course of the ishotkatemoss project …

Black Kate by Nick Knight - which sold for approx. $85,000 in the Christie’s auction of Sep. 2013, that prompted and ushered into existence - was used on the front page of The Independent's special (RED) issue in 2006, guest designed by Giorgio Armani.

Nick Knight's Black Kate
Knight transformed Kate Moss's skin from white to black for the newspaper’s edition attempting to highlight issues that African women face; such broad ranging topics - including poverty, lack of education, health issues etc. This image of kate, as other news outlets stated “blacked up" or “going African”, adorned the cover as well as being included as a free poster.

Knight is responsible for dozens of global advertising campaigns and fashion editorials. He is known for the fact that the post-production of his images is often as important as the creation of the original photograph. "There is a photographic element that most, although not all, of my work goes through. Manipulation is a slightly charged word, though, because it implies deceit. A skilled photographer totally manipulates the reality they have around them. I believe our perception of reality is shaped almost entirely around our fears and our emotional response to what is about to happen," he says.

Following on from Dana’s video, ‘Nappy Hair’, she continued her investigation into the idea behind cultural appropriation and decided to continue the manipulation of kate into even more stereotypical ideas of the “African woman”:
Dana Davenport's Black Kate

She then printed her image and placed it in a salon to observe people’s reactions ...
... if they were in fact reacting at all …
Given people bought the 2006 newspaper due to an attraction to kate, and not necessarily as they were engaging with the underlying issues, such a lack of reaction in Dana's work seems to be appropriate.

So rather than just continuing this trend of indifference, considering that May 25th is World Africa Day celebrating the 1963 establishment of the African Union, and that 2015 is the Union's 'Year of Women’s Empowerment', we honor Dana’s work (more of which can be seen at Furthermore, rather than spending your hard earned $s on fashion items this week, or any other for that matter, consider making a donation to some important charities, such as The Global Fund for Women, Give a Heart to Africa and Africa’s Out, all of whom actually address some of the challenges The Independent was initially attempting to highlight, without using kate as a poster child. …

Just like the SVA students ... Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.

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