Tayo Adekunle b. 1997

Adekunle uses self-portraiture to expose issues of race, gender and sexuality whilst investigating racial and colonial history. Through re-working historical stereotypes she highlights the fetishisation, sexualisation and western gaze on black female bodies. This exploration runs throughout her series Reclamation of the Exposition and Venus Noire as well as her most recent work Yemoja to create a rich presentation of the colonial perception of the black female body.

Sarah Baartman - a Khoikhoi woman from South Africa named 'Hottentot Venus' who was brought to Europe in 1810 and exhibited in Britain and France - was the catalyst for Adekunle’s exploration into the past and present treatment of the black female body. Through referencing ‘master’ painters in her compositions, Adekunle brings to light which female bodies were depicted and confronts the viewer with this fact.

Adekunle references her Nigerian heritage and draws on personal connections to the fabrics used for sets in each image. The use of contemporary western clothing as well as more traditional Nigerian textiles demonstrates that these perceptions and issues are still very much rooted in the present.