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Toor-Toor by Khadija Saye

Toor-Toor by Khadija Saye

Courtesy of the Studio of Nicola Green and Jealous
© Khadija Saye Estate. Khadija Saye Arts programme at IntoUniversity

This is one from a series of 9 self-portraits made for the Diaspora Pavilion at Venice 2017. The series is entitled Dwelling In This Space We Breathe.

The series was part of Khadija Saye’s exploration of her identity, heritage and mixed faith background. Khadija’s parents were both from The Gambia; her mother, was a Christian and her father was a Muslim. She used objects in the images to convey her connection to traditional Gambian spiritual rituals – from purification to protection.

The medium used for the original series was wet plate collodion tintype. This is a precarious, fragile method of photography, dating from 1848. By working for the first time with a medium so easily affected by elements outside of the control of the artist, the theme of surrendering control to a higher power is embedded within the materiality of the work. Raw scans of the tintypes were used to make silkscreen prints of the nine images, in an edition of 50.

Saye said about these works

“Taking inspiration from the development of portraiture in the fifteenth century, I wanted to investigate how a portrait could function as a way of announcing one’s piety, virtue, soul, and prosperity. The series was created from a personal need for spiritual grounding after experiencing trauma. The search for what gives meaning to our lives and what we hold onto in times of despair and life changing challenges. We exist in the marriage of physical and spiritual remembrance. It’s in these spaces in which we identify with our physical and imagined bodies. Using myself as the subject, I felt it necessary to physically explore how trauma is embodied in the black experience. Whilst exploring the notions of spirituality and rituals, the process of image making became a ritual in itself.”

In 2019 in memory of Khadija Saye, Khadija Saye Arts at IntoUniversity was founded by IntoUniversity and Khadija’s mentor, the visual artist Nicola Green. To find out more Khadija Saye Arts at IntoUniversityLink opens in a new window