I began this project as part of my on-going exploration of online culture in relation to marginalised identities that play a large role in my work. I was always interested in the type of discourse and action that materialised through representation in the media, from the call out hashtag #allwhitecast, to the humorous #OscarsSoWhite and most recently, the powerful #blackout day on tumblr. It may appear frivolous or self-serving to some but this is a form of protest taking shape online. For me it always comes back to the spaces we create for ourselves online to challenge the norm.
This project serves as a reaction to the most recent London Fashion Week, which unsurprisingly lacked a substantial amount of models of colour. I teamed up with Lorde Inc, a street casting modelling agency, which prides itself on their diverse roster of models of colour. The agency is a direct action to this outcry as they respond to fashion’s slippery excuses regarding having no models of colour on their runway.
Models from the agency as well as participants online submitted webcam and phone selfies, that I then projected on devices and shot them like an editorial fashion shoot. The selfies serve as a combating tool against media and environmental expectations. The mergence of technology, fashion and activism can be incredibly powerful as we now have access to spaces, people and resources that we didn’t fifteen years ago. I hope this will encourage marginalised people out there to seek these spaces and communities.
I don’t know if the modelling industry is progressing. I don’t know if certain identities are being celebrated or treated as a trend, and I am also unsure whether the trend will stagnate. There’s always a new platform or new face that’s challenging the norm and it’s always a great thing to witness through the screen.[masterslider id=”6″] [fruitful_sep]
Isaac Kariuki is a visual artist based in London and Nairobi currently completing a degree in Digital Arts. His work centres on themes of internet culture and nostalgia as it relates to marginalised identities. He is also the founder of Diaspora Drama, a zine dedicated to creative and offbeat people of colour in cyberspace.