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Dr Shawn Sobers
Our first interview was with Abi on the day before the General Election, 7th June 2017. Before the day we asked her for a written statement about herself, this is what she sent.
“I have just complete her Sociology and Criminology degree at the University of the West of England. For one of my assessments I created a short film exploring diaspora, culture, ethnicity history and legacy from the perspective of Black British individuals. I believe that this conversation requires a platform for engagement. Personally I’ve experienced my Blackness and my Britishness being questioned from people across a variety of diasporas. I am interested in sharing my views for this project because I recognise that as in today’s society identity is fluid and I believe this is a fantastic opportunity to discuss the fluidity of society and the impacts and implication that fluidity has on me as a young Black British women, entering into a new trajectory in life.”
During the interview Abi explored these issues at a deeper level, and so much more.
Abi is now looking to move to London and study for an MA.
Here’s the link to the film Abi made for her Sociology degree, titled ‘Union Jack Through Black Eyes‘ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UES78IV0Lhg&t=475s
[L-R – Shawn Sobers, Abi Stephenson and Ruth Pitter]
Thanks Abi that was great! All the very best for the future!
Interview by Ruth Pitter (VOSCUR) and Dr Shawn Sobers (UWE)
Portraits by Shawn Sobers
Selfie by Abigail Stephenson
Lack of colour, contrast and a bleak sky leave the photo with a sombre initial impression: The only object easily drawn out from the background a body and soldiers. Strangely it seems to even add detail forcing us to take in the entire image. As the title suggests showing the past corruption of a French beach, recognised for family holidays. A seascape covered in harsh metal and corpses, overlooked by the “victor”. Bodies fading into the pebbled beach, when examined properly draw your mind back to the beach scene, sunbathers long lost to the invasion. The couple in the foreground show odd emotions for the scene – the first hands in pocket with a cigarette; numb to the suffering caused, resigned to his sins for the “greater good”, the other hands on hips frowning, as though clean-up is all that’s running through his head. All was for a good cause and in hindsight seemingly an understandable (though not acceptable) loss of life. Bringing this all back to the seascape is haunting for me – showing the power and flaws of those before whilst invoking such a positive comparative memory. Really bringing me into the photo to question past, present and future.
L1 Photography University of West England
This photograph is by French photographer David De Beyter. The majority of his work focuses on incorporating large structures and sculptures he designs and creates beforehand. This photograph in particular features three tiled buildings which appear to be half “sunk” into the ground. The location of the photograph is based primarily in a large field in front of some sort of small town which is lighting up the dark night sky with a warm glow.
What I admire most about this photograph is the lighting and composition. The distance of the structures from the warm background makes me feel disconnected and out of place, and the floodlight in the foreground emphasises this by highlighting the out of place buildings in a light which juxtaposes with the tones in the sky behind it. I find this image to be quite thought provoking as it raises many questions about the narrative behind it as well as leaving room for interpretation. The fact that it was shot during night time also adds to the dark and moody atmosphere by forcing you to focus on the remotely lit and disconnected abstract structures in the foreground.
L1 Photography, University of the West of England
Murder in Hell’s Kitchen is a photo that makes me think for a multitude of reasons. The first reason being that it is such a macabre image; it’s a man who has been shot in the face. Another question the photo makes me ask is, who is this man? If I didn’t know the title of the photo I would still be able to tell that he is a murder victim because of the gun that is on the floor facing towards him. The photo kind of desensitises me to the fact that the victim is dead because it’s shot in black and white; I know that it is blood on the man’s face, however, it just looks like a black mark because I cant see any of the red tones. I like how the photo fades to black in the background, engulfing the man’s body and it gives a sense of the unknown which is a good metaphor for death. On the flipside of that, there is quite a lot of detail and light in the foreground from Weegee’s perspective.
I find this photograph by Alex Majoli very interesting, this is because I find it difficult to pick apart who and what is in the image. Looking at the female I find it hard to tell on whether she is an upper class woman or a prostitute, her clothes could represent both as fur could be seen as trashy or wealthy, but then her lower half and her messy hair shouts out cheap. What throws you is the gentleman who could be portrayed as I driver or a doorman sheltering and escorting the lady to a building, where assumptions could be made of either a fancy hotel or a half decent motel. I also feel that the way the photograph is taken could play a big part in the representation of the image, with it taken at night, and the woman appears to be ‘coming back’ from somewhere, it can be assumed that she is some sort of escort/prostitute returning from work. Majoli used an artificial flash to take this photograph, this creates a dramatic effect and draws a lot of attention on to the subjects, I think this adds even more mystery to the image as it’s as if Majoli is trying to say something but I can’t seem to figure out what.