By Aida Amoako
192 pages, hardcover, £30
Published by Laurence King Publishing
Images have such a profound effect on our psyche, and people often want to see people who look like themselves reflected in the media they consume. As We See It—a 190-page compilation of Black craftsmanship by Aida Amoako—deftly addresses such issues surrounding representation in a world where Black creators have been excluded from fine art spaces for so long. As the author writes in the introduction of the book, “These artists tackle questions of accountability and artistic freedom while openly acknowledging the amalgamation of the sense of responsibility they feel in representing sections of minority communities.”
Indeed, the 30 imagemakers that Amoako selected take on queries regarding identity in complicated ways. Lina Iris Viktor, one of the creators featured, prompts such philosophical questions in her 2018 series A Heaven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred., where she creates self-portraits in which she dons brightly patterned clothing as a commentary on the “mythicized history of Liberia.” Other photographers in the book, like Nadine Ijewere, use their practice for more mainstream critiques, using pictures to address the lack of diversity in mainstream fashion.
Several recently published books—such as Antwaun Sargent’s The New Black Vanguard (2019) and Ekow Eshun’s Africa State of Mind (2018)—have featured collections of Black art, which Amoako acknowledges in the foreword. As We See It sets itself apart from other contemporaries by broadening the conversation to include a diverse range of media and artists from all over the world. —Isis Davis-Marks