March 26: Photographer activist to speak, show work

Jackson-80PULLMAN, Wash. – In “Archival Impulse,” award-winning photographer and activist Ayana V. Jackson explores how Western historical archives have shaped ideas about non-Europeans. Her work will be exhibited March 16-April 1 at the CUB gallery at Washington State University, and she will present the free, public Jo Hockenhull Distinguished Lecture at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in the CUB auditorium.

Does the Brown Paper Bag Test Really Exist?/Will my Father be Proud? 2013

“Archival Impulse” is drawn from art historian Hal Foster’s idea that new systems of knowledge can be created by confronting the archive. Jackson ( examines photographs taken during the colonial expansion into Africa and the Americas and how such photos shaped ideas about non-European bodies.

With the archival photographs as reference images, Jackson restages – and in the process reappropriates – the images, using herself as the only model.

“The spectator is repeatedly met by the same set of eyes and as such becomes the spectacle,” Jackson said. “He or she is hopefully left to grapple with his or her own relationship to the representation of the bodies in the works.”

For the lecture, Jackson said, “I will take the audience through my process by sharing bits of my research, my reference images and a small glimpse into how the works are made. But my hope is to get through all of that quickly and spend a good amount of time in conversation with the WSU community.”

Prototype/Phenotype, 2013

“In a moment when the realities of anti-black racism locally, nationally and globally are sparking conversations and action, Ayana’s work is important,” said David J. Leonard, associate professor and chair in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies (, which hosts the lecture. “She simultaneously spotlights the ongoing dehumanization of black women’s bodies while offering spaces and vehicles of resistance and transformation.”

Jackson splits her time between Johannesburg, New York and Paris, and her work has been exhibited worldwide. In addition to exhibition catalogs, her photography has been featured in academic journals and art reviews.

Case #33 VI, 2013

She received the 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Photography and has been awarded grants from the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Inter America Foundation and U.S. State Department, as well as a grant from the French Institute supporting her participation in the 2009 Bamako African Photography Biennial.

The Jo Hockenhull Distinguished Visiting Lecture was established in 1996 in honor of Hockenhull, a WSU professor emeritus of fine arts and director of women’s studies for more than a decade. She was committed to building programs and initiatives supporting diversity, the liberal and fine arts, free speech and critical thinking.

See an in-depth interview with Ayana V. Jackson at


David J. Leonard, WSU Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies, 509-335-2605,