Updated: Feb 15, 2022
We came across this artist while scrolling through Instagram, and something about his work stood out to us. His use of flowers and the poetry that formed his captions piqued our interest. As is customary, we wanted to learn more about Kriss and his art.
I am Kriss Munsya; I’m a Belgian visual artist. I was born in the Congo (DRC) and my parents moved to Belgium when I was 3 years old. I grew up in Brussels and moved to Vancouver in January 2019.
I don’t really define myself as a photographer. I would rather go with a visual artist. Because I combine skills from graphic design, video, and photography at the same time.
Why are flowers predominantly used in your photos? What significance do they have to your art?
Flowers are just part of one of five segments of my previous project called THE ERASER. It’s not a signature or anything, it was just way to tell a story about my childhood in which flowers were involved. I don’t bring additional meaning to the symbolism of flowers that already exist.
“Blackness is like sexuality. It’s fluid, it's fun and it should always be positive. I really think we don’t see enough Black perspectives in science, art, and psychology. We are evolving in a world where whiteness is the standard.I mean, Black Panther was the first-ever movie with the main character superhero. Two years ago, the first-ever dermatologist book with Black skin came out.
What is the symbolic importance of the Black women who hide behind curtains in your images?
I always felt a bit excluded from the Black community.
For different reasons I guess. I felt excluded by some people, so I isolated myself from that community, and because of that more people excluded me, etc. It went until the point I was envious of my black friend who dated black women. For years I was sure no Black woman would ever want to date me.
Hiding the bodies of black women says more about me than about them. They were always there, insight. I could have always reached out, the curtains were always open, but it feels like no one made the first move. This project was a way to change that.
Kriss has been faced with the challenge of picking between losing his friends and staying true to his course of using his art to speak against racism. He chose a part that history will never forget...
At first, I was angry and then I realized it’s the way it has always been. Maybe I didn’t want to see it, maybe I couldn’t. I realized why the fight against racism is so difficult. Because it’s not about convincing people with good points, it’s about changing the way society shaped people’s vision. And that requires organization, patience, and dedication.
I don’t know if there is a good way to lose something you love. Maybe in the future, I will have something to say about it but now my experience is still fresh to extract any piece of advice.
A mirror is an object that reveals a reflection of oneself. Asides from not being accepted by racists, what do you think scares Black people the most about discovering their true identity?
I don’t think racism is about racists alone it’s about a system in which everyone has a role. I don’t think we are accepted by anyone, and that’s probably the problem. We are born in the fight that we didn’t ask for. And we are hated by everyone on the planet. There’s no place in the world where Black people are treated well.
From a young age, Black people have to face so much hardship that it changes their view on things. I really don’t know what is or isn’t Black identity because I feel we didn’t really have time and headspace to find out. We grow into this fight; into this violence and everything we make comes from that. So it’s twisted from the beginning.
Your art speaks for humanity, regardless of color. What vision do you hope to realize from your efforts to create a unified interaction between races?
I really think the bridges between races can be built. But before that, we should, as Black people, fight to see ourselves through our own eyes and not through the eyes, actions, and domination of the oppressor. That prism is a distortion of who we are. Seeing ourselves with self-love and self-respect will surely force other races to respect us and see us entirely.