The British photographer and author Johny Pitts has curated a series of images exploring Black identities in Europe for photography journal The Eyes Publishing . From Steve McQueen-inspired collage to a studio portrait with tomatoes, they explore feelings of displacement, community and belonging
Johny PittsMain image: Immortalising Black culture … Boiler Room Peckham festival, 2019. Photograph: © Rémy Bourdeau
Thu 16 Dec 2021 07.00 GMT Last modified on Fri 17 Dec 2021 10.13 GMT
James Barnor with a model, Mortsel, Belgium, 1969
Barnor was born in 1929 in Accra, Ghana. He began his career as a portrait photographer in his home city. Based in London in the 1960s, he photographed swinging London and the daily life of the African diaspora. On both continents, his portraits bear witness to a society in transition: newly independent Ghana, London becoming multicultural. In his photographs taken in Europe, Barnor’s gaze rests tenderly on couples who embody personal journeys and family narratives woven together with stories of postcolonial immigration.
Photograph: James Barnor/Courtesy Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière
Studio Portrait, Silvia Rosi, 2016
Rosi was born in 1992 in Scandiano, Italy. She studied photography at the University of the Arts in London and is now based in England. Her work as a photographer and video-maker focuses on her family history, her Togolese heritage and the notion of origin. Carrying loads on the head, a skill traditionally passed down from mother to daughter, is at the heart of this work. Rosi learned this skill to recover a tradition that was lost due to her parents’ migration and her status as a European.
Photograph: Silvia Rosi
Boiler Room Peckham Festival, Rémy Bourdeau, 2019
French photographer Bourdeau, a graduate of the Lycée Brassaï in Paris and specialising in urban cultures, has immortalised the tours of Erykah Badu, Sampha, Dizzee Rascal and many others.
Photograph: Rémy Bourdeau
Périphérique, La République, Mohamed Bourouissa, 2006
Bourouissa was born in 1978 in Blida, Algeria. His first works illustrate the tensions and issues that young people in the French suburbs are confronted with daily. Inspired by classical painting, Bourouissa constructs his photographs like paintings. After a long immersion phase, he poses the subjects in carefully designed settings. This combination of documentary-style content and formal composition produces striking images.
Photograph: Mohamed Bourouissa, courtesy Kamel Mennour Paris and London and Blum Poe Los Angeles, Périphérique, La république, 2006
Image Printed on Voile, Délio Jasse, 2021
Jasse was born in 1980 in Luanda, Angola. In the early 2000s, he learned screen printing in Lisbon. His artistic practice is based on the use of archival documents and found images bearing clues to past lives. Working on the materiality of photography, he develops his printing techniques and often uses historical photographic processes such as cyanotype, platinum-palladium or Van Dyke printing. These processes allow him to subvert the reproducibility of the photographic print by obtaining subtle variations each time.
Photograph: Délio Jasse
Blackstar, New York, Eddie Otchere, 1998
Otchere, born in 1974, is a Black British photographer and curator whose projects use photography and sound to tell the story of the Black British experience. His photographs pay tribute to legendary figures in hip-hop. The result of a series of conversations, his work explores musical, graphic and photographic influences.
Photograph: Eddie Otchere
New Europe, Baker Street Station, London, Johny Pitts, 2013 (from the Afropean series)
The term Afropean emerged out of what came to be known as the “world music” scene, and was coined by David Byrne and Marie Daulne in 1991. Often, music from the US or Britain was known simply as music, whereas anything outside was labelled world music. I think, however, that it was a real attempt to look at shared experiences and commonalities across cultures, which is what I wanted to achieve with Afropean; to piece this “world” scene back together, using Afropean as a success story of multiculturalism.
Photograph: Johny Pitts
Sans Relâche, Marvin Bonheur, 2020
Bonheur was born in 1991 in Paris. He grew up in various towns in Seine-Saint-Denis, where his family, who came from Martinique, had settled in the 1960s. The series This Is London was born from a desire to discover a hidden side of London, a city that Bonheur knows indirectly through English rock, new wave and drill music. Equipped with his 35mm film camera, he went to working-class neighbourhoods and took portraits of the inhabitants he met, most of whom were immigrants – whose daily lives he shared for weeks.
Photograph: Marvin Bonheur
Small Axe 1, Steve McQueen for the Face Magazine, Jazz Grant, 2020
Grant was born in 1992 in London and grew up in Brighton. Her grandparents arrived from Jamaica in 1957 and 1959, a decade after the Empire Windrush. Grant is “fascinated by the creation of new worlds” that collage allows. She cuts out and scans directly from books and printed ephemera, exploring and distorting perception and depth found within imagery.
Photograph: Jazz Grant
P h o t o m e m o r i e s, Gillingham, Johny Pitts, 2021
From the series Home Is Not a Place, a collaborative work in progress between Pitts and poet Roger Robinson. Taking Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes’s seminal book The Sweet Flypaper of Life as its cue, the project focuses on the layered identities and experiences of the Black British community at the start of the 2020s.
Photograph: Johny Pitts