Synthia Bahati

For Us By Us

"YB", 2019. 841 x 1189 mm

The approach to my practice has shifted this year, with a more in-depth realisation that the way a person has been photographed gives anyone who views the image a chance to project different narratives onto what they are looking at. These preconceived ideas are installed in us by society.

I grew up in Auckland as part of the African community, the lack of representation and celebration for which is evidently less than minimal. With their consent, I was able to photograph a few members of the diaspora living in Auckland to show how multifaceted our community is.

"Just Like a Star", 2019. 594 x 841 mm
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"Untitled.1041", 2019. 594 x 841 mm

Through these photographs, I want to show that my community is far more than the stereotypes we have been reduced to; to celebrate our existence and recreate new narratives. I have strived to involve participants in the conversation and to create visibility for them.

I want my images to communicate the trust and relationship between the photographer and the person in front of the camera, rather than just creating an image that translates the person being photographed as a 'subject'.

"MOUNTAIN TOP", 2019. 35mm
Untitled 1
Untitled. (pages 115 & 116 of publication), 2019

I acknowledge that there are elements of 'fashion photography' in my images, but I believe fashion is a significant element that plays into how we define and recreate our identities. Fashion helps shape how we want to be seen. Fashion is also an essential element in black communities. I feel this is an aspect that is embedded into our cultures throughout history, from braiding and patterned fabrics to big head wraps. It is a form of expression and shares elements of your culture with a wider community.

Through these photographs, I hope to empower young Africans living in Auckland and create an archive of valuable images for the next generation to reflect upon what they look like; celebrating who they are and where they come from.

“Without Community, There Is No Liberation.”
— Audre Lorde
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"I caught you at the right time", 2019
"blue looks cool on you", 2019
Newflora August 4632
"floless", 2019
"so selene", 2019
969420852 8830
Install, 209
"MBO", 2019
Book Cover
"THE PYRAMIDS ARE RISING: For the Third Culture Kids", 2019. Publication
Sau A4
"fros and curls", 2019

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