A Space in This Body - 2019
A Space in This Body is a photo project that documents the experiences of women of color, in America, connecting to their truest selves in individual safe spaces.
Damola Akintunde aims to capture her subjects’ most vulnerable moments through stillness and truth. A Space in This Body comes to life as Damola explores her own plight as a first generation, Nigerian, Black woman living in America. She highlights the exhaustive efforts of how Black + Brown women carry themselves in public, as a form of self-preservation, while specifically recognizing the few spaces where they experience true solace.
Graphic by CoolandBrown
I like how the air feels when there are no walls around. It allows me space to seek through my thoughts and makes me feel that I can use my entire self. Something about the aesthetic of worn buildings has always been attractive to me. It means that this space once buzzed with life, and it allows me to draw many millions of stories.
Since I was young, I always wanted a space that I could claim as my own. A space where I could shed the anxiety, the sadness, the hopelessness, the weight of the world. Everything holding me down. I wanted to create a space where I could replace those negative feelings with positive ones. Years later, I'm proud I've finally managed to do that. When I walk into my room I'm now filled with a feeling of calmness. A sense of peace and tranquility. For me, it's more than just a bedroom. It's a safe haven. A space where I can let my mind, body and soul rest.
This space to me means a safe haven. A space where I can hide away from the public, while marinating into the grounding energy of the earth without entirely stepping away from society. In the middle of such an active location, there is this grand tree that stands its ground proudly, like there's an aura surrounding it. In some sense I've runaway here. I've lived here. I've visited here. This is where I've gone to hide, where I've cried, where I've loved, where I've created, and most importantly where I've explored my self without the pressures of how i look on the outside. Being around this being, this mother tree, I feel as a human being would feel if they didn't have to worry about the skin they walk in. As a woman of color, I'm constantly on guard without even knowing it, wishing to be seen and heard.. and to remain invisible all at the same time. I am constantly sexualized and with that comes attention, but it is the attention that makes me wish I could snap my fingers and become invisible when I'm not being respected as a whole. I work with it when I can take advantage of it and educate on the feeling, though it is draining and even dangerous when others take it to extremities and remind you that through ignorant lens, you are just an object in their eyes. I will always actively raise my voice for myself, my community, and for every group i represent. I especially use the privilege I do have to speak up for those that cannot. This tree though, this tree will always be here when I need a recharge, when I need nurturing energy to remind me I am human.
For me this place represents a sanctuary. It is a place where I can connect with my mind body and spirit all at once. It's a place where I can ground myself both in reality and in a spiritual realm. My mantra when I come to this place is "In honoring me I honor you." In other words, by connecting and honoring my whole being through yoga and meditation, I connect with and honor the universe herself. Because I have come to understand that I am a product of the universe, recreating herself over and over.
To me, this space means freedom. It serves as a reprieve from the daily stressors and heavy expectations that constantly weigh on my mind. In this space, I have the power to define my own limits and experience the satisfaction of pushing past those self-imposed constraints. When I run, I tune out everything and everyone around me, and my sole focus is on my movement and the music I intentionally select. It’s a time when I’m not thinking about how I need to present or carry myself, and my only concerns are my own capabilities, limits, and goals for improvement. I prefer running in outdoor spaces, as they truly encourage that feeling of freedom I crave so much.
My body has become my home. It's the form that carries the essence of who I am, my being. Although a house can be damaged and experience hails and storms, My body has experienced pain, trauma, abuse. But you see, the essence of what makes a home is what's inside. It is the space(s) that is curated within the house by people, family, experiences, laughter, etc. Thus no matter what happens to the house itself, what makes it a home cannot be destroyed. This what this space in my body is to me. It is the area(s) within me that allows me to breathe easy, knowing that the manifestations of my consciousness as room to just, be. No matter the trauma, abuse, pain, suffering my body experiences, the essence of me is complete, indestructible. This gives me room to heal, to breathe, to grow, to love, to connect. The space in my body is me. It is the very essence of who I AM.
For me, nurseries have always been a place of solace. They’re one of the few spaces I can visit where I can not only feed my houseplant addiction, but also spend quality time with myself in an environment where oftentimes I leave with knowledge I didn’t posses upon entering.