An Expansive, Celestial Series of Photographs by Shawn Theodore Is Cast in Shades of Blues



March 11, 2021

Grace Ebert

All photographs © Shawn Theodore, courtesy of Paradigm Gallery, shared with permission

“To create in blue, one ought to first understand its extremely efficient nature,” says Shawn Theodore in reference to Night Stars, an intensive new sequence of photos that radiate the primary hue.

Shot using a variety of filters and lights, Theodore’s ethereal works are multivalent in aesthetic and impact. They evoke a range of references, spanning the color symbolizing an antidote to evil to the practices surrounding the 19th Century cyanotype, a medium with an archive that notably consists of few Black subjects. Slavery in the USA moreover foregrounded the manufacturing of indigo, a cash crop that rice and cotton lastly supplanted. “There should be a world that exists inside of the color. A spiritual course of is happening that is begging us to look inside of it, and someplace inside it are options,” the photographer says.


In an interview in regards to the elegantly subversive sequence, Theodore shares that the distinctive thought for the sequence emerged in 2016 and was impressed, in half, by the aesthetics of nature footage. Whether or not or not a portrait or additional expansive shot, many of the works attribute the sky, stars, and water parts which have deep and storied roots in African and African American traditions.

Alongside alongside along with his larger physique of work, Night Stars depends on what Theodore phrases “Afromythology,” a non-linear combine of histories and speculative futures derived from every precise and imagined eventualities. This theme, in addition to the perpetual infusion of blue delicate, binds the individual works that in some other case embody a breadth of Black experiences decontextualized from time and home. Theodore says in regards to the intentionally broad sequence:

Featured in this assortment are portraits made of bejeweled deities in the indigo-hued ether, the fervor of fête revelers, the quiet stillness amongst the dense foliage and haints of Low Nation of South Carolina, possession in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, and daybreak reverence on the sting of the Caribbean Sea. On the center is the viewer, who stands on the bardos of these seemingly disjointed experiences, their presence unifying the precise and unreal.

Night Stars is on view at Philadelphia’s Paradigm Gallery every in-person and nearly by means of March 20. Uncover a much bigger assortment of the Germany-born photographer’s works on his site and Artsy.




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