Society sees black women as strong, powerful, brave, angry and difficult while failing to see their humanity or allowing for them to be seen as vulnerable, gentle, open and compassionate like their white counterparts. There are parallels that can be drawn here with the Hindu goddess Parvati and her dark aspect/incarnation of Kali. Symbolically invoking the goddess Kali in this photographic series was a way for me to bring to the fore the contradictions and inherent biases that are present in societies’ representations of black women.
The dichotomy between Parvati and Kali reflects the notions of dark and light. Parvati being depicted as light skinned and often golden hued while Kali is often depicted as so dark skinned that her skin often is shown as blue in tone. While Parvati represents the home, fertility, love, devotion, divine strength, power and is seen as gentle and nurturing, Kali is the destroyer of evil forces, goddess of time, creation, destruction and power. Often depicted carrying the souls of slain warriors and animals.
Using colour, form and performative hand gestures similar to the Mudras used in yoga and meditation I intended to process these ideas through a figurative incantation. An open palm facing upwards can denote fearlessness and protection while a downward facing palm means charity and compassion. The series of photographs follow a pattern of stages that form a story from the beginning of the invocation to the final meditative pose that denotes a sort of equilibrium and peace.