Article By LATOYA CROSS, FEBRUARY 21, 2017
On the first day of a class trip to Spain, interdisciplinary visual artist Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle and a friend got lost in the red-light district of Madrid.
“I was constantly assumed to be a prostitute because I looked the way that I looked,” Hinkle recalls. The experience was jarring. “Men were [exposing themselves] in front of me. One man pulled out a sword and threatened our whole group.”
Though traumatic, the experience added a layer of depth to Hinkle’s The Uninvited Series, exhibited at Art Basel Miami last December. The series, which has been in the works since 2008, includes photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries that interrogate the exotification and perception of the Black female body by French colonialists. Hinkle, 29, reconstructs and re-imagines the women through vivid drawings and unique placements on the canvas—in a sense restoring their loss of power.
“I was collecting these photographs that were expressions of colonial power in West Africa that were trafficked all throughout Europe to spread these ideologies that African women are hypersexualized [and] here for you to do whatever you want with them. [It’s the] same as how Black women are treated in America today,” Hinkle says.