My work has always been rooted, conceptually, to the oppositional gaze, a term penned by cultural critic bell hooks. For me, it is the intentional act of changing one’s relative position from spectacle to spectator. It is to snatch back the power of looking and the agency that it presumes.
While studying the history of the Black Arts Movement (the mid 1960s – 1970s), I ran across a plea from its founder, Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones), in his “imagetext,” In Our Terribleness, a book that united his poetic narrative to photographer Fundi’s (Billy Abernathy) documentary photography. The book is an exploration of the power of the gaze. In it, he speaks of what he considered the state of hypnosis that Black Americans were under. A trancelike state of mind that left us disconnected from our authentic selves both ideologically and aesthetically. In the book, Baraka insists that he cannot lead African-Americans in the decolonizing state of counter-hypnosis. That we essentially need to snap out it. He urged Black Americans to “try to see your own face when you close your eyes” then “get up and go.”
“Oh Snap.” is an exploration of the moment immediately after a black woman is snapped out of hypnosis and sees her again for the first time. The immediate confrontation between who we are (our present selves) and what we see staring back at us (our propagandized history). "Two-Faced." and “Two-Faced, too.” are a set of portraits of the same black woman staring, with a sense of distrust, back at herself for the first time. In a space void of context, as if stuck in a parallel universe, she cuts her eyes in an interrogating stare as she decides whether or not her reflection can be trusted.