Chukwu’s Dance (Exiting His Chamber)
According to the Odachi Nne-Ebere cosmogony of the Igbo people, Obi Mbu (the primordial house) was the first structure of the universe. In perfect architectural alignment at the center of it stood a pillared chamber (Ozi-Obi-Chukwu). At the beginning of time, Chukwu, the masculine polarity of the Igbo Primordial Androgynous Deity, suavely dances His way in and out of this chamber, entering with His back and coming out with His back turned to all and sundry. Chukwu’s dancing in and out of the chamber piques the curiosity of His feminine counterpart Eke-Nnechukwu, which sets off a chain of irrevocable circumstances that lead to our current world and condition.
In the photographs of Infinite Essence and Cosmologies, Owunna leverages his training as an engineer to explore the nuances of darkness and light. He employs ultraviolet strobes, painted fluorescent backdrops, and carefully hand painted nude bodies of Black models that only glow under ultraviolet light. When he then photographs the models in total darkness, the shutter snaps, and for that fraction of a second, synchronized beams of ultraviolet light illuminate a glowing scene that reanimates tableaus of creation from the archive of African diasporic myth.