The Martyrdom of Eke-Nnechukwu
According to the Odachi Nne Ebere cosmogony of the Igbo people, the universe originated in the constellation of Sirius. Chukwu, the Igbo high god, and His feminine counterpart, Eke-Nnechukwu existed in perfect unity in the primordial blackness of space there until Chukwu sectioned off a part of space exclusively for Himself. Overcome by excruciating curiosity, Eke-Nnechukwu entered the space and, as She does, an explosion rips through the fabric of the universe, martyring Her in the process. After the explosion, Chukwu discovers Her body and begins to weep. His tears pour into Her, purifying and healing Her, and Eke-Nnechukwu rises from the dead, with the physical universe we experience today being born on Her body.
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.