NOW ON VIEW in the Contemporary Art Galleries— El Moro is part of Omar Victor Diop’s ‘Project Diaspora,’ a series of photographic self-portraits based on historical works of art depicting notable men of African descent. This photograph is modeled on A Moroccan Man (1913), a watercolor by the Catalan painter José Tapiró y Baró. Here, Diop adopts the pose and garb of the original subject, but adds touches of modern life via the vibrant textiles and soccer ball. In discussing contemporary soccer players and the man represented in the original work, Diop said that he chose to reference soccer to “show the duality of living a life of glory and recognition,” while also facing the challenges of being “other.” 

Diop began making these works during a four-month residency in Spain, a time during which he experienced a sense of cultural displacement that is mirrored in broader terms by the series itself. Utilizing source material likely drawn from The Image of the Black in Western Art, a research project, photographic archive, and multi-volume book series founded in 1960 by art patron Dominique de Menil, ‘Project Diaspora’ looks particularly at European history from the 15th to the 19th centuries, a period of intense interaction between Africa and the rest of the world.

Posted by Rujeko Hockley