Jus Soli by Darryl Richardson
February 10 - March 5
Upon moving to Mexico in 2018 Richardson learned about the often unacknowledged historical presence of African descendants in Mexico. The project, Jus Soli which translates to; right of the soil, concentrates on the Afro-Mexican community living in Costa Chica (Oaxaca) leading up to the census of 2020. This specific census was of historical significance as it was the first one (after the interim census in 2015) to acknowledge those of Afro-Mexican descent on the forms. In Mexico, census data are used as input for the distribution of economic resources to states and municipalities. Therefore the 2020 census communicates a promise for implementation of policies that extend to the needs of those of Afro-Mexican descent.
Richardson captured ways in which the community of Costa Chica navigates the duality of their African descent within the Mexican socio-political context. In the first installment of the project he explores the duality between being both present (on a social level), though absent (on a political level). This juxtaposition nearly renders the subjects as invisible. Richardson plays with this idea of invisibility in his vignettes. He considers the discrepancy between those two states a fundamental part of Blackness.
As Richardson learned more about the rites and customs of the community in Costa Chica, he saw parts of his own African-American heritage mirrored back. Through this epiphany, the portraits ultimately became self portraits. Providing a portal to reflect on the overarching notion of a universal Black experience. To Richardson this is the core principle of the project and a point of departure for central dialogue.
"No matter geographically where you are in the diaspora we are all connected through the same questions and experiences. What I ultimately discovered is that their questions are my questions. Albeit Oaxaca, I find a lot of similarities in what I witnessed during my own upbringing in the South side of Chicago. The question: why? Across cultures, darker people suffer most. Why?” - Richardson