Confronting the legacy of colonialism, Leuba's portraits look critically at our collective unconscious and the elements that make it up.
How can we re-programme the gaze after centuries in which the representation of other cultures and countries has been unidirectional? Will the technological tools at our disposal facilitate this process? The figures in Illusions seem to come from a place somewhere between myth and reality. Their bright and contrasting colours create a new relationship between the bodies and the nature in which they are immersed. The people photographed are part of Tahiti's LGBTQI+ community. The reference is precisely to the Polynesia painted by Gauguin and Primitivism. Exotic imaginaries that Leuba tries to deconstruct: he puts them in front of a magnifying glass to recognise their codes and remix them.
These are true metamorphoses that trigger a short circuit. The archetypal Tahitian “vahine”, a female figure connected with nature, intrinsically desirable and available, here becomes non-binary. The external gaze that defined her is now subverted. What was object has become subject, freed from the power of the beholder. A stimulus to work together to define new paradigms.
The project is exhibited in synergy with Cassero LGBTI+ center as part of the collaboration program promoted by PhMuseum for PhMuseum Days 2023.
Namsa Leuba is a photographer and art director based in Bordeaux. She has participated in international exhibitions including Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Africa Reframed at the Øksnehallen in Copenhagen, The New Black Vanguard at Aperture in New York and African State of Mind at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham. She has exhibited at international festivals including Daegu Photo Biennale, Athens Photo Festival, Photoquai and Lagos Photo and had a solo exhibition at the Hangar Art Center in Brussels. In 2019, she was featured in the special project Focus in the Eyes at the VIP Lounge at Art Basel. Leuba has worked on commissions for Nike, The New Yorker, Christian Lacroix, Edun, Dior and Netflix. Her work has been published by Kaleidoscope, Foam, Interview, Vice Magazine, New York Magazine, Libération, and British Journal of Photography. Among the awards received were Festival Planches Contact Deauville, Magenta Foundation Flash Forward and Photo Global at the Hyères Photography Festival.