Ella Cooper
Ella Cooper
Multi-Arts | Photography | Film
 

ARTIST STATEMENT

I am many things these days but I am using this new site to focus in on what I want to share with you, works you haven’t seen and new directions I am trying to take in my photo-video-performance-arts practice. I am currently focused on developing new portraitures, documentary works, dance projects using the medium of photography and video to unpack Canadian diaspora, dominant representation and the body using an anti-oppressive lens.

In addition I am striving to understand my place as an artist of mixed race heritage on this land and explore what it means to reclaim the Black female body from a place of embodied elated resistance and how other Black and racialized communities (both male and female identified) are doing the same.

BACKGROUND

In 2010, I began an embodied, auto-ethnographic and art based inquiry to develop as an artist-educator in order to build uplifting, holistic empowerment programs that could effectively address key societal and community needs while seeking to overturn dominant visual culture and internalized racism still present in our communities. While continuing to build equity centred community programs for diverse groups, I also became inspired and mobilized by a desire to investigate representations of the Black female body in Canada and its link to the history of Saartje Bartman, aka Hottentot Venus who is often first referenced as the introduction to the history of the Black female nude in Western art. This inquiry lead me in many different directions that included educating myself both on Saartje Baartman’s story and the self reflexive contemporary work that has been created by North America Black Female Artists as an act of overturning the negative stereotype and depictions that have plagued the Black body. It became clear to me that what I wanted to contribute to the creation of new works on this theme while continuing to investigate the level of self inquiry required to authentically offer uplifting empowerment programs for racialized communities while facilitating new representations of the black female body. With each step of my embodied arts based inquiry, I experienced how vital it is to do the work on the self to truly know the terrain and be fully equipped to take participants to new horizons of creative expression and self actualization with confidence and mindful awareness.

I first created an even workshop title 'Life Drawing for Women of Colour' which was both gathering and life drawing event for racialized and Black female identified participants. After this I created, Body Land Identity a photographic series, video installation and empowerment project with four inter-generational groups of women of Canadian African/Caribbean descent from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal to create new representations of the Black female body in the Canadian landscape. I then went on to launch two film camps for young Black women and recently founded Black Women Film! Canada.

Now, I continue to explore the act of reclaiming the Black female body through my own video performance art works and the through the creation of, ‘ecstatic’ nudes, using safe space and embodied inquiry to develop a new photo-video series as a continued exploration of Black Joy that draws upon Afro-futurist principles as yet another act of resistance and reclamation.

Please note : I have created this website to share my photo-video project specifically (please feel free to delve into my community project on my other site)

Photograph taken by Jalani Morgan.