“Would you be willing to suspend all your preconceived notions of what a heroine is supposed to be?”
This question was directed at Nigerian writer Ayodeji Rotinwa by artist Florine Demosthene. The Haitian-American artist is exhibiting her new show titled “The Stories I Tell Myself” at Gallery 1957 in Accra. This exhibition is comprised of work created during her four month residency with the gallery.
Demosthene’s painted and collaged black heroine projects a strong yet calming presence, possessing contemplative poses with a divine gaze. She appears to be floating, while still enjoying a full form.
Demosthene points to the fact the black heroine is nothing new. Heroines with mythological characteristics, goddesses, all-women armies and warriors have occupied real life and the imaginaries of cultures throughout past and present history. Demosthene’s work simply channels the spirit and energy of women past, present and future who have the ability to protect, bring life and divine the future. Her work speaks to the necessity of presenting narratives of black heroines as valuable, valid and true in and of themselves, detached from the visual and discursive constructions that relate them to men and whiteness.
This gesture present in the execution of her concept is powerful in that it encourages viewers to question who they are when prejudices and outside projections absorbed by their skin and methods of identity construction are removed. Demosthene’s heroine suggests that perfection is not heroic, and that the necessity of removal and breaking down for a more self appreciating and celebratory being is a kind of power too.