Black Gods: Piety and Politics
Recently a series of photos circulated online showcasing the Greek Gods with black models. The collection was created by Ana Martínez and Mario Ville from the International Center for Photography and Film in Spain. Depending on the audience, the reactions varied. My personal opinion is that the photos are stunning. I was blown away by the vibrancy and power captured in the photos. Ana and Mario were successful in expressing the essence of the Gods.
For example, the photo of Zeus (model Ricardo Nkosi) very much is recognizable as Zeus because (for me) the hair was on point and was styled in an appropriate way for Zeus. Demeter (model Isabella Menam), Aphrodite (model Aya Guey), Dionysus (model Megane Mercury) are other great depictions that capture the Gods in what is, to me, a recognizably Greek manner. This is the main reason I love the images; they captured the Greekness of the Gods in a modern way.
Beyond my own personal approval of the images from an aesthetic point of view, I do want to critique the collection because there is nuance to this topic that needs to be dealt with. I am thatperson who finds ways to discuss a topic from a nuanced perspective missing in most conversations. As a polytheist, I must examine things relating to the Gods and Greek religion from the non-secular perspective. Besides aesthetics, I try to gauge the level of piety something has. These are the Gods after all, I must ask myself how are their images being used, why were they made? Should I, a polytheist, be promoting secular art?