Monique from the Alter Ego Series, 2009



Monique from the Alter Ego Series, 2009


Derek Blanks


The alter ego photograph of actress and talk show host, Monique, by Derek Blanks insinuates ideas of W.E. B. Du Bois “double-consciousness” using renditions of the comedy and tragedy opera masks. In an interview Blanks explains how this image stemmed from Monique’s sadistic character in the movie, Precious, and reflects the actress’s ability to embody a horrid role, while maintaining her identity. Furthermore, juxtaposing Monique’s face imposed onto a serious mask behind a laughing mask alludes to the double-consciousness that African-Americans must play in their daily lives. In essence, when outside of the security of their race, African-Americans exist in conscious awareness within the context of White America.
The image also subtly rivals the “happy-go-lucky” stereotype of the unusually cheerful and carefree African-American compared to the stereotype that those individuals, especially African-American women, are always anger and bitter. Blanks reveals that these stereotypes are contradicting and consequently fallible. Moreover, the lack of intermediate representation of the Black identity ultimately dehumanizes African-Americans by constricting their expression of emotion into a box instead of a spectrum.


Derek Blanks




Jamela Peterson