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From here to Africa - Artist Talk


Sat 7 Mar 2020, 11:00am–12:00pm

Where: UXBRIDGE Arts & Culture Centre, 35 Uxbridge Rd, Howick, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages

Registration Types:

  • Registration : Free
  • Eventfinda tickets no longer on sale


Listed by: Ilan Wittenberg

From Here to Africa is a collection of captivating portraits of the Maasai people from Tanzania: Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu Plains and Serengeti National Park. I found myself deeply inspired upon meeting the Maasai tribe and realised the opportunity to help in documenting a unique culture which is being eroded by Western influence and modern technology. When I sent a link of the portfolio to members of the tribe they were delighted, saying that my photos showed that I really loved their people. On a personal level, this reminds me of the true value of photography: preserving memories in order to relive special stories and pass them on to others. Through this collection of carefully composed photographs, the Maasai people can share their rich culture with the world.
The eyes are the windows to the soul so it was important to me that people of the tribe looked directly into the camera. When making direct eye contact with the people, the subject becomes a person; and the viewers move into a deeper dimension for their own artistic interpretation.

I chose to present the portraits in a film-noir monochrome, capturing these portraits in a classically timeless style; lending to the series a unifying appearance that emulates analogue lithographic techniques. I wanted viewers to focus on the humanity aspect of each portrait: expressions and body language, shapes and forms. I eliminated distracting colours to ensure that viewers focus on the people within the photos, and make emotional connections with these individuals.

During this project, I made a point to learn basic phrases of the Maasai language to connect with the community - I found that the Maasai people opened up much more when they saw that I was engaged in their language and culture. I faced numerous challenges during this project, including extremely limited time available for photographing people as well as capturing facial details with natural light only.

I aim to depict the Maasai culture in an authentic and honest way, using a clear narrative style which shows viewers the significance of their culture, as well as their individual personalities. My goal is to provoke viewers’ imagination regarding the tradition of the Maasai people and the stories behind their portraits. In sharing this portfolio, I encourage viewers to show tolerance, to accept different people and to recognise the value of cultural diversity. We would all experience an enhanced sense of community if we took the time to appreciate interactions which allow us to discover a world beyond our familiar boundaries.

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