New self-portrait exhibition focuses on Black women photographers

Curated by Ronan Mckenzie, the group show features self-portraits by 13 photographers as part of an exercise in reflection and self-observation

A new group show at north London arts space Home features original works by 13 photographers who have placed themselves in front of the lens. Held in partnership with WePresent, the exhibition, titled The Self Portrait, features myriad interpretations of the theme, which seek to illuminate the nuances and experiences of Black women photographers, while also stretching the notion of photography and self-portraiture.

According to Ronan Mckenzie, who both curated the exhibition and features in it, the show is about “self-observation, reflection, and giving space and attention to the inner conversation that takes place when making a work”, and there are ample nods to the photographers’ creative process throughout.

Top: Amaal Said. Above: Ronan Mckenzie

It opens with a poignant self-portrait by Adama Jalloh, known for her quietly striking monochrome photographs, who stands poised over her equipment. In a similar vein, Christine Ebenezer’s image shows the photographer holding both the viewer’s eye and the shutter release remote. The presentation of the images is at times used to evoke ideas around the medium of photography, from Joy Gregory’s stream of viewfinder self-portraits to the reflective frame that surrounds Jennie Baptiste’s image in the space.

Meanwhile Mckenzie’s triptych features a stack of books by seminal artists and photographers, an emblem of her identity as an artist and researcher within the context of art history. Props appear elsewhere in the exhibition as various photographers draw on the natural world with flowers and foliage, which are used to both shield and enhance.

Christina Nwabugo
Olivia Lifungula

“The Self Portrait is a celebration of Black women photographers, demonstrating the nuance of not only the stories we tell, but the people behind the lens telling them,” Mckenzie continues. “The show is an acknowledgement of the value of archiving the photographic history of Black photographers in the UK while simultaneously making visible and remembering the people who were at the forefront (or behind the scenes) of that history.”

Another exhibition hosted by Home, called Ain’t I Soft, is running in tandem, which uses fabric and furniture in its exploration of Black female identity.

Lucie Rox
Jennie Baptiste
Tino Chiwariro
Amaal Said

The Self Portrait runs at Home in North London until June 27 and is also available to view online;