Monday 14 December 2020

"Our skin tones have been weaponised against us." Joshua Kissi

When I first started photographing I found out there is a limitation to what our skin can look like based on the mechanics and tools of the camera. I began noticing, ‘oh, when I shoot Fujifilm black skin looks like this’, and ‘when I shoot on Sony it looks like this’. There’s all these different interpretations of how Black skin registers through the camera and it never felt like what I saw with my naked eye. So when I first started out I thought, ‘high contrast, low saturation’. That shows the richness of Black skin but in a way that’s more about how melanin registers...

...Over time, I recognised anti-Blackness’ main point of reference is our skin. That’s it. Our skin tones have been weaponised against us. So I wanted to start there to show the possibilities of what Black skin can look like in so many different ways – its richness, its intensity, its care. There’s so much nuance to Black skin that we’re not being granted. Frankly, this is the first time I’m talking about my work in this way – technical and ideological.

Frankly, I feel like without community I am nothing. All of this work is about us as a community. It’s about making us visible. But not even just being visible. Do you see me, but, also, do you also understand me and the work that I make? I know I’m getting a limited amount of emails and work opportunities right now because I only show and shoot Black and brown people. I own that and make it a part of my story. I’m in servitude of my community and am only the artist I am when I’m serving them. There is no me without community.
Joshua Kissi

photographs via