As an actor taking on a culture that is not your own is part of the job description. As is working as hard as humanly possible to depict that culture in a light that is true to the people you are representing, to the writer and directors vision. As a black actress I often play characters within cultures I have little knowledge of and am very aware of the limited screen time or stage time those characters get so getting it right is a huge responsibility.
We have seen many articles and twitter out pourings over the recent cultural appropriations happening in the fashion and beauty world. It seems in these cases that little or no regard of the cultures they are borrowing from or the historical context surrounding it are even considered let alone respected. So when fashion photographer- Peter Warrick put a call out for an African non-agency model to collaborate on a shoot that explored cultural appropriation, inspired by the Valentino SS16 Paris Collection I was curious and intrigued...
Can a white British fashion photographer with an eye and focus on form, beauty, garments, aesthetics and epic drama create images that are inspired by Africa but yet still empower the model and Africa without fetishising the continent. Can the power be held both in the photographers work, the models collaboration and the continent that inspired the shoot?
WHAT DO YOU THINK.....
It was a great shoot with lots of research completed by the whole team. Authenticity is key as is respect. Peter and I had some very frank conversations, we looked and dissected how and why so many image makers get it wrong. The whole team questioned ourselves and each other and did a heck of lot of homework. I feel the images are strong, intelligent, dignified and powerful. I feel all the creatives' work is held within the images and Peter's work is undeniably strong and artistic without colonising the images or the subject.
So yes I think it can be done, but respect and authenticity need to be held at the forefront of the work!
All images are copyright of Peter Warrick ©. Please contact Peter Warrick for usage © 2015.