Photo Friday with Namsa Leuba’s Ya Kala Ben (Crossed Look)
Namsa Leuba is a young Swiss-Guinean photographer based in New York. Shortly before relocating to New York to enroll at The School of Visual Arts, where she received a one year scholarship, she received a BA in Photography in Lausanne.
Through Leuba’s work we can watch her explore her unique heritage, and witness the way it influences and inspires her art. This is most apparent in a series titled, Ya Kala Ben (The Crossed Look). In her biography she writes, “For two years her research focused on African identity through Western eyes.”
With her knowledge of Guinean cosmology and rituals,Leuba tries to combine elements of Guinean spirituality with her own aesthetic perspective.In Ya Kala Ben, the artist alters the meaning of sacred Guinean statuettes to consider construction and deconstruction of the body, as well as religious symbols. In her artistic statement on the series, Leuba explains how she problematizes the meaning of these statuettes through her representations:
“These objects are part of a collective that they must not be separated from, or risk losing their value. They are not the gods of this community but their prayers. They are integrated in a rigorous symbolic order, where every component has its place. They are ritual tools that I have animated by staging live models and in a way to desecrate them by giving them another meaning; an unfamiliar meaning in the Guinean context.
In recontextualizing these sacred objects through the lens, I brought them in a framework meant for Western aesthetic choices and taste.
This photographic eye would make them speak differently. Throughout my fieldwork, I had to deal with sometimes violent reactions from Guineans who viewed my procedures/practices as a form of sacrilege. Some were afraid and were struck with astonishment.”
Learn more about Namsa Leuba through her website or blog.