The two portraits are part of the series “Liberty” (2016), which chronicles events linked to Black protests across eras and countries through the lens of allegory. Through the images—in which he and Dija play the entire cast of characters, slipping into different identities with each photograph—Diop hopes to connect moments and movements of Black resistance from Africa to its diaspora to a larger history and sense of identity.
“The art I produce is an attempt to build another bridge between these [groups of] people that are actually one people—that were separated by history and slavery and the colonial era,” Diop said.
Black Americans, for example, rarely have a full picture of their lineage, with slavery dividing families, changing names, and making record-keeping impossible. “When an African American looks back at their history, actually, they [often can’t] go further than Juneteenth,” Diop explained. “[Their] history is far less traceable past that date.”