Namsa Leuba researches the visualization of African identity through Western eyes. Namsa Leuba was born in 1982 from a Guinean mother and a Swiss father. She grew up in Switzerland but has spent years on a “journey back” towards her African roots, using the language of photography to approach her personal identity in a variety of ways.

Inspired by the visual codes and symbols of voodoo, Leuba constructed a performative photographic series. By sourcing models and creating unique costumes, she reenacts important rituals that result in a fictive portrayal of new types of communities.

‘’The title of this series, “Weke,” means “the visible and invisible universe, all things created, living, breathing or not” in the local language of Benin. My images attempt to portray the concept of vodun that cannot be depicted visually, hence cannot be depicted fully through photography. The camera isolates cultural practices and transforms them into visual forms. Instead, I construct my images with the awareness of the cultural gaze, of the fragmented information that one receives when tradition is alienated from its source’’.

Leuba’s diverse photographic practice examines the representation of African identity through the Western imagination. Spanning documentary, fashion and performance, Namsa Leuba creates a visual imaginary that explores the signs and symbols of her cultural heritage, from rituals and ceremonies to statuettes and masquerades.

Whether executed on location in the artist’s ancestral hometown of Guinea or in the constructed studio environment. Adopting a theatrical approach with careful attention to props, colors and gestures, Namsa Leuba questions the relationship between fact and fiction, action and representation, and the sacred and the profane.

© Namsa Leuba

Using Format