Join us for a Member Preview Day for the exhibition, Namsa Leuba: Crossed Looks. All Halsey Institute membership levels are invited to get a first glimpse of our newest exhibition! All members should RSVP to halseyRSVP@cofc.edu to reserve a space. Not a member yet? Not a problem! Find out more about the benefits of membership here.
The Halsey Institute is pleased to present Crossed Looks, the first solo exhibition of Swiss-Guinean artist Namsa Leuba in the United States. The show will feature over 90 works from the photographer’s projects in Guinea, South Africa, Nigeria, and Benin, and it will premiere new work created in Tahiti.
As a photographer working across documentary, fashion, and performance, Namsa Leuba’s images explore the fluid visual identity of the African diaspora. With a dual heritage between Guinea and Switzerland, Leuba draws inspiration from her own experience growing up between two different cultural traditions.
Leuba’s images are influenced by the Animist traditions of her mother’s family in Guinea Conakry, and the visual codes of statues, masquerades, and religious ceremonies in West Africa. They are also inspired by contemporary fashion and design. The result is a unique perspective that straddles reality and fantasy. She re-stages and constructs narrative scenes in collaboration with her sitters, incorporating bold colors, striking patterns, and intricate clothing and props. Leuba often uses models that she informally meets in the street, who become active collaborators in the portraits.
Leuba’s photographs pose fundamental questions about the medium of photography and its role in forming our understanding of the cultural “Other.” Leuba states: “I have always been characterized as the Other, whether I am too ‘African’ to be European or too ‘European’ to be African. In this unique positioning, I am interested in the politics of the gaze—who is looking, who is being looked at, and the medium of which this looking occurs.”
Through her photographs, Leuba ultimately searches for a visual sense of belonging, of finding a vocabulary that speaks to the experiences and perspectives of not fitting in one ready-made mold. The title of this exhibition, Crossed Looks, references this diverse perspective, creating an alternative visual proposition that transcends fixed modes of representation.