Origins Eile is proud to present Bla-Q, a photography and poster project made in collaboration with Zainab Boladale, Macy Stewart and our participants in celebration of Black History Month, October 2021.
Still reeling in the wake of the BLM protests of last year and the subsequent sudden increase in visibility for Black folk here in Ireland, it was important to us to mark Black History month our way, on our terms.
To remind y’all that although Irish history and culture is full of tales of resistance, rebellion and liberation, our Island identity is still largely defined and built upon structures of whiteness. Black Irish history is obscured, deemed unimportant, marginal and difficult to access. But Black folk are still here resisting, rebelling and pushing for liberation every day.
Irish History needs to be revised and expanded to embrace Black stories and histories, because lawd knows we’ve been here for a hot minute. We saw a big cultural shift happen last year, but Éire still needs to make room for Black people, our present experiences, stories and histories. So let our posters serve as a reminder- we have been here, we are still here and we will be here for a long time to come.
To our skinfolk, we hope you are all thriving this Black History Month! We purposefully made this project a public one to serve as a reminder for y’all also; that Queer histories and people are just as much a part of our collective culture and deserve the same honour and respect from the Black community. Where would we be without Audré Lorde, James Baldwin, Grace Jones, Marsha P Johnson? Y’all are lucky to have us, we’ve been shaping culture.
We know from the Sankofa bird who stands with its feet pointing forward and its head looking back that history is always creating itself, that we carry our past and our ancestors within ourselves in the present and into the future with each step forward we take…that time is not linear. This History Month we are staying rooted in the present, knowing that Queer Black folk in Ireland are making history all the time, just by existing.
It is in this spirit that we bring you Bla-Q, an unapologetically queer celebration of Black folk here in Ireland.
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We asked our participants to choose a part of their body to be photographed that they feel represents some part of their personal journey, living within their Black Queer identities. We asked them to share some of their feelings about it with us in the form of a short piece of text.
We are so grateful to our community for their ongoing participation, vulnerability and creativity. We know it is hard to share the intimate parts of ourselves and put it out into the public realm. Y’all are just amazing and we are so proud to present your work.
We want to end with a note from Zainab Boladale, the creative director for Bla-Q. She tells us that the heart of this project is: “To show the complexity and intersectionality of being Black and queer by artistically highlighting the journey and self discovery our bodies go through and the layers that come with that.
“To give space to those in our society who may once have felt that they could not exist authentically as they are and to ensure that such stories are immortalised through imagery”.
Access the online version of Bla-Q here.
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