Black is beautiful, in Lingala Moindo eza kitoko. A few words which are music to our ears. And yet, they bear the suffering of peoples from all around the world who are still perceived as misfits and stranger creatures.
Eager to raise awareness about her experience as a mixed afro-descendent woman, Browncoffemoka, born Pauline Boyenga Bofala, is a Franco-Congolese artist whose work celebrates Black and African cultures and identities.
Deeply moved by the recent events which have affected the US as well the rest of the Western world, her different projects are tales to tell the stories of those who have been muzzled for too long. Like a griot she utilises her craft to give Black people “their pride and honour back,” and to keep alive the spirit of those who passed away.
“My roots are essential. They have been part of me for all my life. I cannot even imagine creating without thinking about them. One of my uncles told me: ‘You are the reincarnation of your ancestors. Never forget where you come from and who you are’,”she said.
Browncoffemoka is an artist with many hats. Designer, illustrator and visual artist, she is also passionate about art history, cultures, ethnology and literature. Polyvalent and multidisciplinary, she finds her inspiration in the mystic harmony offered by “ancient spiritualities to connect with nature and humanity.”
Playing with materials, colours, light and shadows, Browncoffemoka’s work embraces her African and European roots to offer us a sensational journey within her vivid and flourishing imagination. Utilising recycled paper, reused fabrics and upcycling, the French artist is also environmentally conscious and advocates sustainable art.
Rehabilitating Black and African people through art is an arduous but necessary task to put an end to exotic prejudices which circulate through media and ignorance.
“All human beings should gather against racism. As well said, it is not White against Black but everybody against racism.” We live in a stratified, divided and antagonised world, where one is too often constrained to think in terms of skin colour to define their identity, to exist, to be recognised and to be appreciated and valued. In the end, you give birth to Moindo eza kitoko.
Reflecting on the impact of the Black Lives Matter and Black is Beautiful movements, she sadly concludes that “the trauma African and Black people have been suffering from is way too huge. It has been spiritual, mental, psychological, emotional and physical.” But art and its spiritual essence, love and culture are among the few medicines which participate in the healing process of black diasporas across the globe.
– Anaïs N’déko