Glass talks to artist and activist Valerie Ebuwa about – ValUE II

THE POSTS on social media may have stopped, and the protestors may have gone home but, the fight to end racism has not. It may not be headline news and you may not hear the echoes of ‘Don’t shoot’ bouncing off street corners, however, just because there is silence doesn’t mean that there is justice or equality.

Over the past couple of months, we were forced globally to look at both our history and our present. We were all urged to question the structures, institutions and businesses that have become the pillars of modern society, and to dissect the anatomy of the system.

Taking control of the narrative that is predominately conveyed to us from a white male perspective, artist, activist and dancer Valerie Ebuwa has created an unapologetic second series of photographs, titled ValUE II focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and the re-examination of the black female body.

ValUE II is composed of metaphors and hard truths that demand the attention of the viewer. Partnering with photographer Henry Gorse, the collaborators have come together to provoke and ultimately question the world around you.

Glass presents ValUE II, captioned by Valerie Ebuwa.


ValUE II by Valerie Ebuwa

Whether it’s tone policing, the thousands of unnecessary hysterectomies performed on black women every year or just the police, Black women and their bodies have been policed historically like no other. 

The police in the USA have illustrated that they value property more than the black woman (Breonna Taylor) and here in the UK Alesha Dixon couldn’t even wear a BLM chain on television without the public making complaints about it.

“Marc Quinn decided that Jenny Bastet’s body was his to police and profit from and ignored her discomfort as his muse. It’s clear that this need to police black women, their bodies and opinions is systemic,” says Ebuwa.

ValUE II by Valerie Ebuwa

It’s a lonely place for black people who don’t have the privilege to stop protesting for equality.

ValUE II by Valerie Ebuwa

“Posting black squares is lazy when the real work needs to start at home. Performative allyship is a pretend or surface-level awareness and focus on being seen to have done the right thing and behaved correctly, rather than an actual interest in examining the bias and implicit racism we all carry. The restriction of Black voices communicating their oppression is the algorithm for social death and erasure.

ValUE II by Valerie Ebuwa

“The significant, measurable first-mover advantage the white player has in chess plays out in the game of life. Racism is a game with many levels. The strategies that enable white supremacy to win are inherent to every structure we know. Ever wondered why in a game of chess, white goes first?

ValUE II by Valerie Ebuwa

ValUE II by Valerie Ebuwa

Drowning in whiteness is a constant. Just like the galaxy that our solar system is a part of, white supremacy is the system that we’re all entrenched in.

ValUE II by Valerie Ebuwa

“The Black British identity has been controlled and regulated by the media since the beginning of time. How often are we told about Princess Sophie Charlotte, the first black queen of England and the grandmother of Queen Victoria. We’re not. Transparency is key.” 

Speaking to the artist herself about this anti-racist project, she explains “My overall message is to always entice conversation and thought about what we’ve been taught or conditioned to believe is good, beautiful or credible.

My work is made with emotive intention so if it makes people uncomfortable or emotional then that’s a good start. If it makes people confront their own biases or ways of thinking, then I am happy. It’s not about people liking or enjoying it either. Hopefully, conversation can be the catalyst for action and change.”

Valerie adds, “I also want to give black women, in particular, more autonomy over their bodies and the confidence to value themselves. Hopefully, this will give people permission to love themselves even though we live at a time that we are subliminally (and overtly) taught not to.”

The photographer of the project, Henry Gorse says: “I feel as a white male I have a responsibility to elaborate on my role in Valerie’s project tackling racism”.

He continues, “To be asked to get involved and help on the VaLUE project I took very seriously. I wanted to help amplify and elevate Valerie’s messages as I think the issue of racism in all its ugly forms needs to be challenged, questioned and ultimately stopped. I had a lot to learn and reflect upon along the way but it’s part of the process

Now, maybe more than ever, it is important to continue to highlight the problems rather than erase the progress that has been made. No fight was won overnight, so work like this that outlines what has been done but also concentrates on what still needs to be done is imperative to society and its future.

Not forgetting to mention this series has been launched alongside a fundraiser titled #letsmakeshithappen, which helps minority artists to have the freedom to create work without the barriers that institutional funding has on certain creatives.

by Imogen Clark