Diego Ramirez | The Umbral Empire: Prologue
3 – 26 August 2017
The Umbral Empire: Prologue is a project comprised of pictures mounted on light boxes, a moving image stereoscope, and an off-site mural. Its aim is to articulate colonialism as a prolonged eclipse. The logic of this scenario entails irreversible anomalies: bodies that were deprived of light in a cosmic event that stretched out for centuries. This work is concerned with conceptualising the return of these shadowy aberrations. To this effect, the artist appropriates images deemed to contain racial connotations and digitally reconstitutes them. A process that began by sourcing pictures of media personalities from different post-colonial countries and bluntly extracting parts closely associated with their identity – such as eyes and several limbs. The remaining fragments were then reimagined as ghostly creatures and arranged in an eclipse formation where they are always obscuring a source of light (that also causes them to glow). The main aim of this exercise is to defile the original form of the image and bring forth something horrible. The artist describes this method as monstrification, and is careful to explain that it is modelled after the corrupting effects of colonialism and the legacies of its violent acts of domination. The result is a spectral system of racial signs that return from the deep shadow to terrorize the here and now.