In the Darkroom Mirror series (2017-2018), Sepuya positions his camera and tripod in front of a mirror, depicting himself—occasionally accompanied by the limbs of a companion—in the act of taking a photograph. Through revealing his own tools and apparatuses, Sepuya presents artificial, enigmatic scenes that raise questions about the medium’s processes of exposure and concealment, the relationship between surface and depth, and the connection between the lens and the mirror as devices of capture and reflection. The mirrors in Sepuya’s images often bare palimpsestic traces of smudging, disturbing the transparency of the picture plane and heightening the photograph’s tactility.
Sepuya’s work also engages with the suggestive, unstable meanings of “darkroom,” which refers to, in the artist’s words, “both the historical origin of the photographer’s craft as well as the privileged yet marginalized site of queer and colored sexuality and socialization.” The personal and the professional collide in Sepuya’s studio, as his subjects are not strictly models but also friends, lovers, peers, and members of the queer community. Such intimate depictions explore complex intersections of desire, collaboration, and creative exchange. They also imagine the studio as a site for expanding the possibilities of queer subjectivity and expression.