When the idea for “Trans Atlantic” came up between me, Isma, and the crew from Pekat Photography, we quickly fell in love with the concept and decided to make it a joint effort. Since slavery is a sensitive topic, we decided to do our best to approach the topic from a more academic and historical reference point. We hoped our joint effort would offer a new, fresh narrative told in a three-part series that would be presented without bias, social commentary, or cultural or historical analysis.
We recognize that with the topics of slavery and color, people tend to have strong pre-formed opinions. Thus, we chose to approach this project from an artistic point of view without trying to be overly intellectual or offer solutions to problems. We wanted to mash together history and the present and create a set of images that caused the viewer to stop and think. We wanted these images to give a sense of mood and feeling to the viewer, to think "that girl in the middle could easily be me” or ask “why are they wearing tweed suits?”
The teamwork on this project developed somewhat like a perfect marriage, each of us contributing our different skills to the shoot. We were able to incorporate great styling, sets, and ultimately verbiage into our project seamlessly, something that does not happen often in our area. Here in Kenya, it's difficult to find a group of creatives who are talented in multiple areas and also find common ground in the course they wish to take on a project like this. Because of this unique team, we have been able to push ourselves with this project and produce a set of images that goes beyond our normal comfort zones and hopefully inspires others.
It's easy as creatives to push a specific message with our craft but that is not our intent with this series. With the first installment of our project, “Trans Atlantic,” and with the additional two chapters involving portraiture and a short film, we hope to simply be storytellers and create art that inspires people and makes them think.
Submitted by Hajji Mutonye, more on the photographer and project found here.