This story is part of Image issue 22, a meditation on the many definitions of the city’s favorite word: luxury. Read the whole issue here.
Luxury is such a spectrum. What luxury means for me — and I would say a lot of people may share my sentiments — is not necessarily being lazy but just doing the things that make me feel good on a daily basis without any anxiety or stress. Any time I’m not working or finding work or thinking about money that needs to be made so that I can just pay bills and live, I’m filled with a ton of anxiety. Reading a book these days is hard for me, just taking the time to do that. But as I was taking these images — which is why I love self-portraits because it’s self-reflection, and the entire process is reflection — I’m like, wow, you can take the time and you can carve out 20 minutes. Everything’s gonna be just fine.
I think I was just tapping into childhood, the inner kid. I feel like the images that I took really do embody parts of my personality. I’m in the garden, watering my garden. That is a meditation for me — I can just get lost pruning things and sitting in the garden and seeing all the new little flowers and the fruit. I sometimes don’t even have time at all these days to do that anymore.
All of my faves? That’s what they’re doing after all the hard work: Pam Grier, Kelis — the girls are in the garden. That’s the goal! In “Baby Boy,” Tyrese Gibson’s mom is in South Central in this garden that’s giving pergola and tomatoes and she’s just there smoking her cigarette, drinking her wine. Seeing that image very young — I had never seen a Black woman chilling in the garden like that before. I was so appreciative of that. Now, at this age, I understand Jody’s mom, sitting in the garden with her cigarette and just giving exhale.
I’ve carved out these little spaces in my life where I like to go and hide. I have a really big sweet tooth; I love baking. I bake something probably every week. The photos with the doughnuts and the pancakes — that’s really real. It’s just indulgence. It’s OK to be that girl sometimes. I think that shamelessness is the sentiment from those images. It’s like, YOLO.
Speaking on the anxiety I feel when I chill too hard, the images of me just laid out on the chaise in the garden reading Toni Morrison — I got that book for Christmas in 2019, the year that “The Source of Self-Regard” came out, but I haven’t been able to read much of it. It’s a bunch of short stories, essays and interviews. I sat for only one hour and I finished something, and I was so excited. Even in the process of taking these images, I was able to be in it.
For Image, the photographer and filmmaker created a three-minute dedication to herself and her ancestors which she calls ‘a meditation on the reclamation of one’s own freedom.’
These images are really giving Hollywood films — all the pink, the boa outside on the chaise. I definitely wanted to create a dream because it’s the dream to be doing this, to just be chilling and be relaxed and at peace and doing what I want to do. I approached a lot of this series by making sets: I created the world, created the environment, the way I would like for it to exist in my lux space, in my lux life.
Rikkí Wright is a photographer-filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist moving through the mediums of printmaking, documentary and ceramics. Working with the personal and historical archive, Wright is granted access: a space to remember, imagine or reimagine histories.