Black Dandy

Tagsmart weekly discovery: Sara Shamsavari’s global identity

Born in Tehran in the midst of the Iranian revolution, multi-disciplinary artist Sara Shamsavari overcame childhood cancer while she and her family fled persecution.

Raised in London and educated at Camberwell School of Art and Design and Central Saint Martins, her experiences inspired her exploration of identity and engendered a profound desire to make a difference through art.

At a time of increased division, conflict and polarisation around the world, Shamsavari’s works explore and celebrate global identity. While each of her photographic series has a distinct focus, together, they all seek to encourage a deeper understanding of our nuances as human beings in contrast to the current popular narratives that misrepresent, malign and often succeed in dividing and ‘othering’ those in the minority.

London Veil was her first series, portraying young women wearing the hijab on the streets of London, Paris, New York and Toronto.

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Her series Britain Retold: A Portrait of London is an exploration of British identity as known by the diverse communities living in London.

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She has also contributed to series such as The Dandy Lion Project by curator Shantrelle P. Lewis, which challenges its audience to rethink the outlook of black men perpetuated in the media today.

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With a belief that artists can be leaders in social and spiritual progress, Shamsavari seeks to encourage both participants and viewers in transforming the way we view society and ourselves.

Shamsavari’s work has been featured across various media and publications including BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Elle, i-D and Dazed & Confused. Her work has been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums and public spaces and she has delivered a number of talks at cultural institutions, including Tate Britain and Southbank Centre.

Tagsmart weekly discovery: Arteh Odjidja’s photographic narratives

Born and bred in London and influenced by his father who worked in filmmaking, Arteh Odjidja realised at a young age he was destined for a career in the arts. In 2004, Odjidja completed a degree in Graphic Design at the LCC University of the Arts but soon discovered his love for photography and storytelling.

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His keen eye for composition and passion for bespoke couture naturally led him to specialise in fashion, portrait and documentary photography. Having worked with some of the world’s most recognised brands, including Paul Smith and Montblanc, his innate bond to the arts however eventually led him to take up personal projects as well.

His first exhibition, Stranger in Moscow, was on display at Ozwald Boateng’s Saville Row store in 2013. The series shines a light on a young man’s story, and highlights the feelings of displacement and vulnerability felt by so many living in foreign environments. The social struggles faced by such people have defined the modern world we live in.

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He has since exhibited his work extensively in America and the UK, been featured in numerous industry publications such as Black+White Photography, The British Journal of Photography and The Photoworks annual.

Most recently, Odjidja’s Art of Monochrome series was featured in the Dandy Lion, The Black Dandy and Street Style book by Shantrelle P. Lewis, Leica UK and Aperture Foundation, alongside Hassan Hajjaj, Joshua Kissi, Travis Gumbs and Omar Victor Diop.

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On September 30, the photographer will present the Monochrome Street Portraits – Black and White Portrait Photography workshop at the Imago Fotokunst, Berlin. Teaching participants how to create a portrait narrative and achieve dynamic black and white portraits on location, the masterclass draws inspiration from his successful ongoing STRANGER series, which profiles young migrants in cities around the world.

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