25th September 2020
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Darryl Daley’s BLK Soap Is A Visual, Social Commentary Of The Black Experience
The artist debuted his first short-film as a response to the current world affairs.

Darryl Daley might be 35, but his youthful energy and shy gaze take a good decade off his shoulders. Based in South London, specifically the effervescent neighborhood of Brixton, where he was born and raised, Darryl feels strongly about his Jamaican roots. His own identity has become a central subject of inquiry in his non-commercial work as a visual artist. His continuous research on Black history is the easel propping up the message he wants to deliver. Most recently, Darryl felt sucked into a pressure chamber of amplified attention and over-exposure of the Black body. The noise generated by the overly stressed portrayal of the World’s events by mainstream media, whatever they may have been, got him pondering about his stance on the ancient-current affairs that had been informing his practice all along. The result was a stimulating, emotion-triggering, visually impactful short film called BLK Soap.

Growing up, he was attracted to design, and having an excellent eye was naturally part of his skill set. However, visual art came to him towards the end of his academic training when a glitch in his photography course diverted him towards fine art and graphic design. His entire craft seems to be tied together by one underlying discipline and theme: film and the spectrum of Black identity. Way before starting to play around with Premiere Pro and other editing software, Darryl co-founded Scene+Heard, a DYI cinephile club focusing on Black culture. The format is quite unique: a film screening that seamlessly turns into a themed party inspired by the movie of choice, allowing the audience to re-enact the energy infused into them by what they just watched. The Thatcher-era, 1980’s British drama “Babylon” – recently referenced by Louis Vuitton’s creative director for their FW20 menswear collection – is the type of movie you can expect to see as a subscriber. 

BLK Soap was initially meant to be an interactive response in support of the Black Lives Matter movement; however, the need for a statement led Darryl onto a research path that triggered a much deeper message. The main goal was to unearth and analyze the anatomy of the Black body across the Trans-Atlantic and highlight some of the major points that made history, leaving an open door for viewers to engage in self-reflection. What had started as an artistic approach to solidarity eventually manifested Darryl’s first piece of visual art. The end result could be considered the climax of months of solitude and pondering after years of trying to support the community as a Black-led creative collective and advocating for its history through motion picture and photography. 

Aside from his work and Scene+Heard, Darryl runs an additional Instagram page called T.R.U.E.S.T.O.R.I.E.S. The platform is a tribute to the Black experience through the lens of his own family’s history. All of the photos posted belong to his parents’ archive of memories crystallized in time. The nostalgic shots feature images taken in all different environments and places, from Jamaica to New York and London, creating an album of seemingly mundane moments that reconstruct its protagonists’ lives in an incredibly stylish way. The film is a sequential juxtaposition of audiovisual incitement through the exploration of Black history in art and the televised tragic moments that led us to amp up the alertness towards such experience, despite the availability of its grandeur in libraries and the internet. BLK Soap cites Moor imagery alongside contemporary facts such as the protests that erupted following the murder of George Floyd, the craft of Jean Michel Basquiat, and Tupac’s poetry. There’s no specific explanation or interpretation of the film; instead, its purpose is to compound the Black diaspora’s complexity and magnitude and prompt quest and curiosity in the heart of the viewer. 

darryl daley

The title was chosen following different feelings. One more literal, as the artist took into consideration the actual black soap as a representation of a product made for his people by his people, and a more ethereal one as the process of making the film was somewhat of an emotional cleanse. In his own words, Darryl’s efforts are a natural response to his existence in the creative realm, where he often didn’t have much representation throughout his professional experience. Creating the missing narrative is the matrix that spins his craft and pushes it forward.  Despite being a British-Jamaican artist, Darryl based the film on excerpts of American culture due to the hyper-contemporaneous essence of the piece. 

“I could only have made this right now,” he told me while dialoguing about the film and its content. “I think America is the core of everything at the moment.” He continues addressing how the USA has acted as the culprit behind the spread of the protests worldwide and how generally, what has been considered pop culture since the end of WW2 cradles from there. Furthermore, his Jamaican heritage also played a role in selecting visual metaphors as Jamaicans lived a reverse Atlantic crossing to reach Britain back in the day. The experience is similar but site-specific.

The use of archival documentary material and photography, known as the Ken Burns method, in tandem with Spike Lee’s mastery of musical arrangement is what inspired Darryl’s technique. “My foundation in design also plays a role in the film. If I were to watch it with an outsider’s eyes, I’d definitely notice the design prone characteristics,” he explains in regards to the ability to tell a story by using two-dimensional elements like paintings and photography. BLK Soap is an experience one has to enter open-hearted. It’s an opportunity for self-evaluation, discomfort, and comfort at the same time. A positive shock of joy triggered by an electric feeling caused by the prime soundtrack and the soothing voice of Al Jarreau. The unfiltered contingent of fast visuals on the split-screen offers a personal interpretation without ostracizing the main point: a contextual social commentary of the Black body’s exploitation across the Atlantic.

Darryl Daley’s BLK Soap Is A Visual, Social Commentary Of The Black Experience
The artist debuted his first short-film as a response to the current world affairs.

Darryl Daley might be 35, but his youthful energy and shy gaze take a good decade off his shoulders. Based in South London, specifically the effervescent neighborhood of Brixton, where he was born and raised, Darryl feels strongly about his Jamaican roots. His own identity has become a central subject of inquiry in his non-commercial work as a visual artist. His continuous research on Black history is the easel propping up the message he wants to deliver. Most recently, Darryl felt sucked into a pressure chamber of amplified attention and over-exposure of the Black body. The noise generated by the overly stressed portrayal of the World’s events by mainstream media, whatever they may have been, got him pondering about his stance on the ancient-current affairs that had been informing his practice all along. The result was a stimulating, emotion-triggering, visually impactful short film called BLK Soap.

Growing up, he was attracted to design, and having an excellent eye was naturally part of his skill set. However, visual art came to him towards the end of his academic training when a glitch in his photography course diverted him towards fine art and graphic design. His entire craft seems to be tied together by one underlying discipline and theme: film and the spectrum of Black identity. Way before starting to play around with Premiere Pro and other editing software, Darryl co-founded Scene+Heard, a DYI cinephile club focusing on Black culture. The format is quite unique: a film screening that seamlessly turns into a themed party inspired by the movie of choice, allowing the audience to re-enact the energy infused into them by what they just watched. The Thatcher-era, 1980’s British drama “Babylon” – recently referenced by Louis Vuitton’s creative director for their FW20 menswear collection – is the type of movie you can expect to see as a subscriber. 

BLK Soap was initially meant to be an interactive response in support of the Black Lives Matter movement; however, the need for a statement led Darryl onto a research path that triggered a much deeper message. The main goal was to unearth and analyze the anatomy of the Black body across the Trans-Atlantic and highlight some of the major points that made history, leaving an open door for viewers to engage in self-reflection. What had started as an artistic approach to solidarity eventually manifested Darryl’s first piece of visual art. The end result could be considered the climax of months of solitude and pondering after years of trying to support the community as a Black-led creative collective and advocating for its history through motion picture and photography. 

Aside from his work and Scene+Heard, Darryl runs an additional Instagram page called T.R.U.E.S.T.O.R.I.E.S. The platform is a tribute to the Black experience through the lens of his own family’s history. All of the photos posted belong to his parents’ archive of memories crystallized in time. The nostalgic shots feature images taken in all different environments and places, from Jamaica to New York and London, creating an album of seemingly mundane moments that reconstruct its protagonists’ lives in an incredibly stylish way. The film is a sequential juxtaposition of audiovisual incitement through the exploration of Black history in art and the televised tragic moments that led us to amp up the alertness towards such experience, despite the availability of its grandeur in libraries and the internet. BLK Soap cites Moor imagery alongside contemporary facts such as the protests that erupted following the murder of George Floyd, the craft of Jean Michel Basquiat, and Tupac’s poetry. There’s no specific explanation or interpretation of the film; instead, its purpose is to compound the Black diaspora’s complexity and magnitude and prompt quest and curiosity in the heart of the viewer. 

darryl daley

The title was chosen following different feelings. One more literal, as the artist took into consideration the actual black soap as a representation of a product made for his people by his people, and a more ethereal one as the process of making the film was somewhat of an emotional cleanse. In his own words, Darryl’s efforts are a natural response to his existence in the creative realm, where he often didn’t have much representation throughout his professional experience. Creating the missing narrative is the matrix that spins his craft and pushes it forward.  Despite being a British-Jamaican artist, Darryl based the film on excerpts of American culture due to the hyper-contemporaneous essence of the piece. 

“I could only have made this right now,” he told me while dialoguing about the film and its content. “I think America is the core of everything at the moment.” He continues addressing how the USA has acted as the culprit behind the spread of the protests worldwide and how generally, what has been considered pop culture since the end of WW2 cradles from there. Furthermore, his Jamaican heritage also played a role in selecting visual metaphors as Jamaicans lived a reverse Atlantic crossing to reach Britain back in the day. The experience is similar but site-specific.

The use of archival documentary material and photography, known as the Ken Burns method, in tandem with Spike Lee’s mastery of musical arrangement is what inspired Darryl’s technique. “My foundation in design also plays a role in the film. If I were to watch it with an outsider’s eyes, I’d definitely notice the design prone characteristics,” he explains in regards to the ability to tell a story by using two-dimensional elements like paintings and photography. BLK Soap is an experience one has to enter open-hearted. It’s an opportunity for self-evaluation, discomfort, and comfort at the same time. A positive shock of joy triggered by an electric feeling caused by the prime soundtrack and the soothing voice of Al Jarreau. The unfiltered contingent of fast visuals on the split-screen offers a personal interpretation without ostracizing the main point: a contextual social commentary of the Black body’s exploitation across the Atlantic.

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