the violence of forced assimilation endured by african immigrants drives this impactful photo series

August 30, 2018
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“What happens when the colonized assimilates his colonizer’s truth and live it as his own?”

Canadian photographer Yannis Davy Guibinga sought to explore this question in his photo series ‘BEARSKIN’, where he creates a visual conversation between the Black immigrant body and the symbols of colonization that have to be adopted in order to assimilate in a Western land.

“The history of Europe’s colonization and cultural imperialism has resulted in generations of people leaving their native countries in the hopes of finding a better life in the country that colonized their own. And in order to thrive in the society in which they settle, immigrants often have to assimilate to the culture surrounding them, sometimes to the detriment of their own.”

The Bearskin is typically worn by the British Royal Guard while the satin gloves depict a violent rendering of those worn by royalty – the red alluding to the blood on the hands of the British monarchy. Guibinga manages to cut through the colonizer symbols by putting red eye-makeup on his model Christian Lohez in order to represent native African culture and the undying desire for the culture and independence that still lives within the immigrant.