A Photograph by Namafu Amutse
In a landscape of memory, boyhood is an ongoing moment. It is a time we return to, amazed at the distinction between who we have become and how we once thought of ourselves. Of course this is not the case for boys who are still boys. What they know of their bodies and understand of themselves, as individuals together in a group, is not yet regulated by the demands of adulthood. For now, at least in the photograph, they’re coming to terms with the seriousness of play. They gather with the intention to find in a grain of sand all there is to know of the world. Or so it appears.
Namafu Amutse: “Photography is like a mirror offering a reflection to the viewer.”
On a chilly Sunday afternoon, this photo was taken on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in Swakopmund, Namibia.
The capturing of the image was intentional, however not necessarily curated. I approached it from a perspective of documentation; so, I was kind of an outsider capturing what is happening within, while keeping in mind that my subjects are young black boys.
This photograph is extremely special to me because the three subjects are my brothers. Since the beginning of my photography journey, my subjects have mainly been my siblings and in many ways it allows me the opportunity to show them how it is I see them and how it is I hope they see themselves, regardless of what the outside world chooses to project.
Most of my work is spontaneous and sparked by boredom, so initially I go out, create and play around with little to no intention. And then, during the editing phase, the images begin to speak to me and the intention is revealed.
I am motivated by what one could call pieces of a puzzle that make a whole: I see jewellery laying around and I pick from it, then I see colours and they inspire a look and then I see material and locations come to mind. Where others might see scrap, I see the potential for a story to evolve through imagery.
I believe that photography has the ability to offer a paradigm for those at the receiving end to reach a certain level of self-actualisation. Photography is like a mirror offering a reflection to the viewer and this can influence and impact the ways in which we see ourselves and how it is we see each other.
Two more photographs by Namafu Amutse
Namafu’s work has been recently featured in two prominent African literary magazines, and the two photographs below are selected from each: the first from “Soft” in the Kenyan-based Lolwe, and the second from “Chrysalis,” in the Namibian-based Doek!
Last week — Amanda Iheme
I am interested in documenting built structures – mostly buildings from pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial times. Before the 00s. I document for the purpose of preservation of these structures and for education about Nigerian architecture during these times. I do a lot of reading to support my work because I have no background in architecture and that helps a lot. It helps me frame and appreciate the work because I can understand the mindset of the architect.
Read more: Casa De Fernandez House (a.k.a Ilojo Bar).
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Welcome, new subscribers! This is the 17th edition of the newsletter. Every week I feature one photograph and the photographer who took it. You’ll read a short caption from me, and a statement from the photographer. My goal is to set up conversations with the work of early to mid-career African photographers. You can support the newsletter by asking anyone—or 10 people!—interested in the impact and meanings of photography to subscribe. And, if you know of any photographer whose work is deserving of attention, please email me with their name(s).
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The worker is often street photography’s unwilling subject. Without the worker, without, in particular, their movement, the city loses the dynamism with which it draws, in the first place, the photographer’s eye. — J. Lean, on “Abeokuta Bridge Workers” by Ifebusola Shotunde