‘Where are the stars that show us to our love
Where do we begin when it is considered radical for us to desire/love, to be joyful, in the first place. When we rarely engage our tender selves in public discourse, see our loving in popular media, or our ancestries honoured.
Thus, we look to the vastness of the night sky. We look within and towards each other.
This is where we begin.
Photographers Soko Negash and Leyla Jeyte document intimacy and loving between the lines in diasporic communities. Both explore themes of de-colonial love, loving as resistance, and radical intimacies in their work.
Jeyte’s photographic portrait series, Love – A Black Woman’s Definition (2016-18) features Black women spanning across the world from Nairobi to Los Angeles. Her portraits are accompanied by excerpts from each of the women photographed, imagining and reclaiming their love/life narratives in their own words. While traveling, living, and working in different countries, Jeyte began to ask the women she was photographing to define what love means to them.
Negash’s series of photographs, Have You Eaten? (2018) chronicles Chinese mothers and daughters expressing themselves and their love on their own terms in response to racialized stereotypes. This series is accompanied by an audio sculptural installation Have You Eaten? Phone Home (2018). Recreating furnishing and decor from her grandmother’s home, Negash has created a domestic setting to interact with audio excerpts from interviews with the mother-daughter pairs from the series.
‘How do we come to be here next to each other’2
The ways we love are deeply nuanced and as wondrous as the star formations that illuminate the darkness.
-Safia Siad, 2018
1 & 2 Poem for My Love (2005).
Soko Negash is a Toronto-born visual artist of Chinese-Eritrean descent. Her creativity is explored primarily through the realms of fashion design, documentary film production, and most recently, photography. She is inspired by the underbelly of a place, unspoken (mis)understandings, ancestral knowledge and trauma, and the messy parts of cultural identity.
Leyla Jeyte is a Somali born Toronto based photographer. Her artistic journey began in Cuba where she was inspired by the vibrancy and kindness of its people. Since then, Leyla has lived and worked in various countries including Colombia, Sweeden, and Kenya. She uses documentary photography and in-depth visual storytelling to portray the lives of women of colour with a focus on themes that capture authenticity, intimacy, healing, and love.
Safia Siad is an artist and curator. Born in Montreal, she is the daughter of a Somali father and Irish-French-Canadian mother. Themes of dislocation, love, exile and hope permeate her work. Having spent the last four years at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, she is forging on a path that will allow her to work with and curate for women artists. She currently resides in Toronto.