The work of French-born photographer Lucie Rox, who lives and works between Paris and London, moves through a number of worlds, from fashion and beauty to portraiture and landscape photography, stripping the medium back to its core elements – light, shadow, colour, and movement – or exploring forms derived from her own life experience, such as Black womanhood.
Rox’s latest project, in particular, sees these worlds collide. Titled POWER, PAIN, PRIVILEGE, the audio-visual artwork is created in collaboration with Specimens, the musical alias of the London-based artist and producer Alex Ives (who will also release POWER, PAIN, PRIVILEGE as a full-length, atmospheric LP later this year).
Working together, the pair have created a 20-minute film that shifts between abstract visuals, archival footage, and original cinematography showcasing looks from the likes of Mowalola, Ahluwalia, and Nicholas Daley. Many of these shots, in fact, circle back toward abstraction, zooming in on dancing shadows, saxophones, and images of Black hair, blurring the lines between subject and object.
The ambiguity is no mistake. With French-Congolese and British-Jamaican backgrounds, respectively, Rox and Specimen are no strangers to the liminal spaces explored in the film, which explores the sense of limbo that exists between two distinct heritages whose connections have been “made ambiguous if not rotten by the violence of colonial history”.
Centring on the complexities of biracial identity, POWER, PAIN, PRIVILEGE also opens on a robotic voice reading excerpts from the infamous Fletcher Report, a “cold, analytical and dehumanising” document from the 1930s that heavily stigmatised mixed heritage families and children of African and European origin. While the harmful effects of such reports echo to this day, POWER, PAIN, PRIVILEGE is ultimately a way of fighting back: “An abstract illustration of finding one’s own power in self-acceptance, in the reassurance that we all have a right to multiplicity.”
POWER, PAIN, PRIVILEGE premiered in the Purcell Rooms at the Southbank Centre in October 2022, but you can still catch a screening with a live score from Specimens in Paris on March 4, 2023 (plus a DJ set from Kleopatra Divine). Take a closer look at what’s in store via the gallery above, and pre-order the album here.