Mare Monstrum / Drown In My Magic by Austrian-Nigerian photographer David Uzochukwu powerfully reclaims the realm of fantasy and myth for black bodies.
There are entwined bodies – sometimes with limbs that have morphed into fantastic forms; huge expanses of sky, water and sand are present. They are set in dramatic and moody landscapes that could be Earth or another planet entirely and as such invite us into a monumental space for deep contemplation – both within and without.
This title also refers to the Mediterranean sea, to the dehumanizing portrayal of migrants by media and politics for too long, and to the relationship between the African diaspora and water. Uzochukwu's images seamlessly integrate aquatic and terrestrial worlds, natural and supernatural, creating a community of powerful hybrid creatures that radiate freedom, bravery, and dignity.
The series has been growing since 2016. In his work, water has always played an influential role. There are so many different ways in which it can convey meaning.
"I was excited to visualize the fantastical creatures I’d been fascinated with since I was a child (one of the first fights I remember between my parents circled around my deep wish to get a Barbie mermaid. When I finally had my way, I’d let her dive in the bathtub until her face washed off her pale plastic head.) I didn’t know then that I would build a larger series -- but I kept returning to sketches of merfolk in the years that followed. The images begged for a larger scale and a stronger sense of community", says David Uzochukwu.