Based on photographs that deSouza took of their father’s apartment after he died, the works attest to the kind of informal archive that our possessions create around us––an archive whose logic is, often, opaque to all but the person at its center.
The works––which are not direct, documentary photographs but what the artist calls “renderings,” digital paintings based on a photographic original––take care to retain an element of this opacity; as one approaches them, especially, it becomes possible to see that parts have been blurred, made illegible, even erased.
These methods are, in many senses, a measure of the delicacy of the revelations made in the works as well as the personal nature of the series for deSouza, for whom creating it amounted to a form of mourning after their father’s passing.
The works speaks not only to the artist’s sustained attention to the way relationships are strained and sustained across distance and time—but also to their consistent probing of the possibilities and limitations of the photographic medium.
Born in Kenya to parents who migrated from India, deSouza grew up in the UK, where they were involved with the Britain’s Black Art Movement in 1980s. Since 1995 deSouza has been working and living in California with the past decade in the Bay area where they are the Chair and Professor of Art Practice at University of California, Berkeley. deSouza’s works have been exhibited worldwide including at The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL; International Center of Photography, NY; Museum for African Art, NY; Smithsonian Museum of African Art, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Gwangju Biennale, Korea and 3rd Guangzhou Triennale, China and Fowler Museum, LA. deSouza has also authored numerous articles and their recent publications include How Art Can be Thought in which they examine how art is discussed, valued and taught within a politicized global culture while in their novel Ark of Martyrs the artist pens a fictional rewrite of Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novel Heart of Darkness blending poetry, rap and prose through a contemporary prism.