This large-scale photograph recently acquired by the Ulrich through the generous gift of the Jack Shainman gallery was created by the contemporary UK/Ireland/Africa based photographer Jackie Nickerson.
Nickerson spent four years living on a farm in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s and has subsequently spent many years researching and traveling in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of her best-known work represents agricultural labor in the region.
Oscar belongs to this extended body of work as part of a series titled Terrain. The images in this series were made in Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa and focus on the significance of agriculture in Africa and the relationships between the land, the crops, and the people who cultivate them.
Oscar was created when Nickerson captured the moment of the titular farm worker engulfed by the tobacco leaves he was handling. In subsequent works, Nickerson continued to explore how concealing her subjects can lead to a different kind of portraiture: “not showing their faces was about this idea when you’re doing [heavy, repetitive] physical labor, even gardening, it gets into your body, into your psyche. It becomes part of your physicality and physiognomy. You become one with whatever you’re doing. So this is trying to be a kind of metaphor for that. That we become part of what we create, we become a part of what we grow, on all kinds of non-practical levels.”