Henrique J. Paris

BILLBOARD x FAMILY LINES poster commission, ‘Registo II’, explores prospects of autonomy in Black life and the overlaps between branding & identity.

Drawing on Henrique’s background in Philosophy and Film, the work uses philosophical and political frames of reference to consider socio-spatial tensions present in contemporary public framings and readings of Black subject(s).

In a present that is rooted in histories of enslavement and colonialism, where Black subjects have been repeatedly denied; Black diasporic autobiographical practices do not simply function as acts of self-representation, but also as physical gestures of embodiment that push solidly back against this denial - spatial representations of absent subjects. In the context of this display, Henrique poses autobiographical portraiture as a method for thinking about Black male visual archives and phenomenal space(s) - a series of experiences and events that shape individual and collective existential perception. The work deals with ideas around characterisation and aesthetic engineering, which in turn confront histories of spectatorship, spectacularity and gaze - dynamics of visual domination corresponding to mass culture and colonial service.

‘Registo II’ does not seek  the viewer’s full comprehension, but instead stages hapticity*; signalling demands for critical spectatorship.

*A term derived from the root word “haptic” (of or relating to touch), used by Tina Campt in her book A Black Gaze: Artists Changing How We See (2021). Campt defines the term as follows: "hapticity: the labor of feeling across a shared spatiality; communicating and collaborating across differential relationships to space and time; bodies required to feel out, feeling with, across, and through one another to create a sense of intimacy.”

The poster commission is part of FAMILY LINES; a multi-platform project by artist Alice Rekab in collaboration with community archive Éireann and I, commissioned by The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin. Each stage of the project considers the importance of both platforming voices of colour and making specific spaces for self-representation and gathering, and each stage informs the next stage of the project.

Text by Holly Graham