Inspired by afrofuturism and abstracted reality, Lucie Rox’s photography takes us to new dimensions
Through her wonderfully surreal and otherworldly images, the London-based photographer wants to produce a more diverse and multi-faceted depiction of Black womanhood.
- Olivia Hingley
- 20 January 2022
What photographer Lucie Rox finds most interesting about her chosen medium is how malleable it can be. “Photography, which as a medium is, by essence. a very simple thing and very matter-of-fact, can be stretched and pushed to create some form of abstracted reality”, she explains. Interested in creating “sensation” through her work – with enveloping colours or physical manipulation of the image – Lucie’s pieces are full of complex artistry. But, and perhaps most importantly, at the heart of the photographer's ideas of abstraction and manipulation is her desire to both create and see a different visual representation of Black women.
The pandemic was a mixed experience for creatives; while some were plagued with creative blocks, some saw their ideas and inspiration flourish. Luckily, Lucie fell into the latter category. Viewing the period as “the first time I felt like I had the mental space and freedom of just exploring for the sake of it”, her time in isolation ended up becoming the foundation of her most personal project to date. Teaming up with her make-up artist friend Crystabel Riley, the pair originally intended to work together simply “for the sake of experimentation and fun”. But, their final creation – the zine WATERCOLOUR – is an exceptionally inventive and impressive publication. Beginning with discussion around Black womanhood, the pair became interested in “the idea of the connection between skin and landscape as a very abstract concept.” It's a concept that arises in River Solomon’s 2019 novel The Deep, which Lucie and Crystabel sought to emulate through its “deep sea hybrid afrofuturistic creatures”. Not only is it a visual success, the project has allowed Lucie to bring more of herself into her work and helped build self-belief: “now I am able to take on projects with more active intention and more confidence in my own vision.”
Lucie’s photography journey began during her teenage years. Born in Marseille, she grew up in a small mountain town until the age of eight when her family moved to Nantes. Seeing her step dad taking photos on his old analogue reflex camera on their various family holidays, she eventually ended up getting a small digital compact camera of her own. For Christmas one year, she also received an anthology of photographers from Magnum Photos which instigated her love of documentary photography. Since then, Lucie has found inspiration in all sorts of places. Despite dropping out of her Paris-based Literature and Arts university course to move to London, Lucie still sees her creativity as being inspired by the written word. Foremost inspired by the work of Audre Lorde, Lucie has more recently been obsessed with the writings of Chantal Akerman and Moor Mother’s poetry.
It was in 2016 that Lucie’s methodology saw its biggest progression after she began hand printing all of her own work. “I just love the physicality of the process, spending time away from the screen and connecting with the image in your hand”, Lucie explains. And, it is in the darkroom that Lucie achieves her trademark style. Mixing various techniques with a more classic darkroom set up with collages, paintings and photogramms, Lucie thrives off experimentation. “The transformability of one image is very interesting to me, how different things can emerge from one shot depending on how you treat it.”
Now believing that her best work comes from “somewhere very personal”, Lucie previously felt “barely confident enough in myself to explore these questions privately, let alone through my public work”. Photography, therefore, has been and continues to be an important and powerful means for self exploration. “My identity and my exploring feeds into my work through my influences, my readings, as well as through how deconstructing my own biases towards myself have changed and reshaped my idea of what is beautiful and what is meaningful.”
Lucie Rox: WaterColour (Copyright © Lucie Rox, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.