Growing up black, many of us can remember the time when we realised we were "different". It's a 'coming of age' moment or collection of experiences when we're suddenly confronted with how our blackness creates a dramatically different reality than those of our non-black peers.
Vancouver-based artist Kriss Munsya's new photographic work The Eraser seeks to reimagine and recreate these exact moments. Ones that can be enlightening, or sometimes traumatic, but nevertheless stay with you for the rest of your life.
Drawing from experiences of being born in The Congo but raised in Brussels, the series unveils a story of change and transformation exploring issues of race, gender and identity and, on a personal level, delves into the trauma and discrimination Munsya experienced as a black child growing up in a predominantly white environment.
With each image, he revisits specific childhood memories to reimagine his past, trying to "erase the dominance of whiteness by transposing blackness," as he puts it. It is through this creative journey that Munsya evidently discovers that memory is not easy to manipulate and that by attempting to do so, unexpected artistic visions can be explored.
Munsya's work is certainly surreal, with his subjects often pictured behind curtains – symbolising memory – or with their faces covered to convey dreaming.
Alongside his photography, Munsya is a graphic designer and an award-winning filmmaker. His first feature film, Us and Them, told the story of his travels from New York to Los Angeles and the experiences he had as a black non-citizen. His second film, All That You Need, spoke about his deep love of music and indie bands.
Munsya's first solo exhibition of The Eraser opens 14 January with Alison Milne Co in Toronto and will be shown in a 3D immersive interactive virtual gallery space created by Oarbt.