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DO NOT REFUSE ME portrays the lives of my contemporary sitters, establishing them as citizens within an archive instead of marginal bodies lost to time. The portraits in this series serves as a testament to the power of photography to capture history and also provide us with a glimpse into the past. It is an effort to connect both the lives of unknown women who were Bonetta's contemporaries during the Victorian and Edwardian era as well as the lives of the contemporary sitters who moved from Africa to Europe in the last decade. The portraits featured in this project are not merely re-enactments, but a deeply collaborative endeavor between myself and the portrayed.

The women bloom with dignity, much like their ancestors—the women from actual 19th century cartes de visite who appear in these portraits as jewel-like adornments on dresses or rest in the sitter’s hands.  Like flowers, the sitters, rendered life sized, appear startling in their beauty, ephemeral, surreal, and yet grounded in their own being.  


In Do Not Refuse Me botanic history is layered and carried through the images in various ways. Both in bouquest of flowers (tussie-Mussies) held by the sitters which encode thoughtful messages, as wel as some of which are actual commodities or of importance to colonial trade.

And which sheds light on the continued concerns of race in European society.  I hope the project is a powerful reminder of the significant role photography plays in preserving our history and culture.

(preview below)

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