Synthia Bahati


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Untitled. 2020. 6x7 medium format.

This body of work is an extension of the African community around me, continuing with the conceptualisation of African representation in Auckland.

This year I have explored how images can facilitate positive representation and bring people together through fashion and documentary-style images.

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'In Medusa' - 120mm, 2020
“Beauty is a power. And the struggle to have the entire range of black beauty recognised and respected is a serious one” - (Summers, 1988) ...a struggle that has relied, in part on the camera, to envision it and the magazine to publicise and normalise it.”
— The New Black Vanguard, Antwan Sargent. 2019
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'Grace in 1022' -120mm, 2020
Onehunga Boys
'1643' - 120mm, 2020

I believe images are a powerful way to convey a message without explicitly saying anything. Through clothing, style, framing and angles I hope to portray the people around me in a way that celebrates and empowers them, continuing to evoke uplifting and positive feelings.

I like to use modes of fashion and documentation to convey my ideas and showcase what I see beyond the physical. It's not only important for me to photograph my community but to contribute to the narrative created, perpetuated and consumed by those outside of the community. In doing so, I hope to aid their subconscious understanding and awareness of the beauty and greatness that lies within the growing community of Africans in Auckland. I choose to photograph in different ways to reflect the many ways black people are and can be.

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Elam Project Space Installation . 2020
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"HERE. NOW. PRESENT". 2020. Publication

Photographs have the ability to live longer than the person or people portrayed. The many messages people can draw from an image vary depending on the individual, the discourse they derive and the time period in which they consume. Historically, photographs have shifted the conversation around blackness, and they have the power to continue this shift into the future. Particularly powerful photographs can dilute the negative and stereotypical narratives that have been created around blackness.

The black community in Auckland has been finding its voice, slowly influencing one another to be proud of who they are and where they're from. I hope the images here, and the ones I continue to make, contribute to this cause and influence the younger generation of African third-culture-kids to be unapologetically proud of being themselves.

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'I Guess it's My Attitude' - 7 tone CMKY on Aluminium Screen Print. 2021

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