Sokari Ekine is a Nigerian British queer feminist and abolitionist who has lived and worked in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the United States. Their work has been exhibited in such venues as: 4th Biennale of Fine Art and Documentary Photography; Berlin, PhotoVille, New York and Los Angeles; New Orleans African American Museum; AfroFuture at Art Basel, Miami. As a practicing Haitian Vodouisant initiate, Ekine’s work focuses on decolonization, sexuality and African diasporic spiritualities; in ways that overlap in their multiple roles as photographer, independent scholar, blogger and community builder.
Their aim as a photographer is to shift the gaze from denigrating representations of African sacred traditions and instead present a narrative in which we as a people engage with a planetary consciousness that celebrates black humanity. They propose a space where the viewer is asked to consider traditional African ritual and healing practices and how these may respond and relate to the black body existing within a more speculative and subversive reality. In this way, Ekine's work reminds us of the intersections between cultural production, resistance, decolonization, ritual, and community.
Their sixteen-year blog, Black Looks, is a foundational site that at its center documents African queer subjectivities and forms of intersectional activism. Additionally, Ekine has contributed to four groundbreaking publications on Africa including co-editing the Queer African Reader, recently translated into Portuguese and African Awakenings with Firoze Manji.
Since 2007, Ekine has spent months at a time in Haiti as a community organizer, educator, writer, and most recently a documentary photographer. In 2013 they received a twelve-month International Reporting Project fellowship from John Hopkins reporting on grassroots healthcare provision. It was during this time they began their journey as an intentional photographer and visual scholar. Their lived experiences with spiritual communities in Haiti have produced a series of photo essays focusing on African Diasporic spirituality in Haitian Vodoun which are highlighted in a recently published book, Spirit Desire. Their work on changing negative stereotypes and narratives of African Spirituality continued in Kenya and most recently amongst queer and trans-identified people of color in the southern United States.
Ekine's visual work draws on some 32 plus years of global experience, working and living in multiple geographies in the areas of African spiritual practices, education, technology, advocacy, and activism in social justice, scholarly and journalistic writing. Over the past two years, they have broadened their creativity to include digital and non-digital collage making; working with natural materials such as iron, glass, and vegetation.
Ekine's visual work has received grants from the Astraea Foundation, the Awesome Foundation, and a Monroe Fellowship from the Center for the Gulf South in New Orleans. Their work has been exhibited in New Orleans, New York, Miami, and Bahia and their photographs are included as part of the permanent collection at the Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, and at Xavier University Gallery Collections. Sokari sits on the Board of Directors for Synergía - Initiatives for Human Rights and is a member of BLMP [Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project]. Presently Sokari works in the Gulf region of the United States and across Haiti.
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