Wish You Were Here
Wish you were here focuses on the work of Aida Overton Walker, the celebrated 19th Century African American vaudeville performer who challenged the rigid and problematic narratives of black performers. Heather Agyepong appropriates the figure of Overton Walker to re-imagine the grotesque postcards of the so-called Cake-Walk dancers popular across Europe, this time as one not of oppression but of self-care with a mandate for people of Afro-Caribbean descent to take up space. The images explore the concepts of ownership, entitlement, and mental wellbeing.
Each image is layered with symbolism to elicit a conversation about the boundaries of how we see ourselves both in real and imagined realities. By embodying Overton Walker as guide, ancestor, and advocator, the series uses satirical commentary and depictions of radical self-worth in an attempt to disrupt the roadblocks affecting our collective mental health.
Her work converses here playfully with quotes, thoughts, provocations that Agyepong distills from a preoccupied state of mind saturated with images of violence, inequality, injustice, to say enough.