Mikael Owunna's Imagine Fresh Darkness at Blue Sky Gallery delves into a rich tapestry of diasporic African myths, including those from Dogon, Igbo, and African-American traditions, and features nineteen images from Owunna’s groundbreaking photographic series Infinite Essence.

This series redefines conventional notions of photography, which from its Greek roots—photos (light) and graphos (drawing)—is often understood as “drawing with light.” Traditionally, photography uses light to draw an “objective” portrait of the world. However, Owunna’s approach subverts this foundational concept by utilizing ultraviolet light, which is invisible to the naked eye, to reveal and draw from the “blackness” or darkness itself. By creating custom camera equipment that captures the fluorescence of painted bodies under UV light, Owunna’s photographs reveal a spectral vision of humanity that aligns with and poeticizes African cosmological narratives, aspects traditionally invisible both to the human eye and standard photographic equipment.

The title Imagine Fresh Darkness challenges the viewer to reconceive darkness not as the absence of light but as a profound presence, teeming with unseen energies and narratives. In Owunna’s work, darkness becomes a canvas revealing the luminous and transcendent potential of the Black body, portrayed through a process that draws from the very essence of invisibility and blackness.

The exhibition also includes the film Obi Mbu (The Primordial House), co-directed by Owunna and Marques Redd. Shot in complete blackness under a backdrop of ultraviolet light, this experimental dance film is centered in the Primordial House, located in the Sirius star system, from which creation emerges. Eke-Nnechukwu, the Igbo high god, and Chukwu, Her masculine counterpart, exist in perfect unity in and as the Blackness of space. Although They are dual aspects of the Primordial Androgynous deity, Chukwu sections off a part of space exclusively for Himself in the form of a sacred pillared chamber in the heart of the Primordial House. He engages in a secret work by dancing in and out of this chamber, which sets off a chain of irrevocable circumstances that lead to our current world and condition.

Imagine Fresh Darkness not only showcases Owunna’s innovative visual techniques, but also offers a poignant commentary on the revival of traditional African knowledge systems and reimagines Black spiritual and artistic expression for the 21st century. This exhibition invites viewers to see beyond the visible, into realms of cultural and cosmic depth that celebrate the rich heritage and mythology of Black identities.