Johanne Rahaman is an emerging fine art photographer, working in both digital and film formats since 2002. Her most recent body of work, which consists of environmental and street portraits, is an urgent, unceasingly developing photographic archive of the stigmatized black communities throughout South Florida. Her lens takes an intimate look at what happens in these neighborhoods when there is nothing newsworthy occurring, capturing the simplicities and the complexity of the entrepreneurship, beauty, sensuality, aging, youth, and resilience of everyday life within the African Diaspora. Her images do not deliver the ‘news,’ but rather convey the emotion and mood of the communities, not as voyeurism, but as appreciation.
Art means…breathing. It means waking up everyday and knowing that without my camera, without my subject matter, I would literally die. I have to create, and in order to create, I must leave home and go out in search of people to capture. For a somewhat recluse, this is a challenge, but somehow being in the company of strangers to create images comes natural, and in a sense, photography becomes my first language. My oxygen.
I create because…it is my clearest, sincerest passion, and plus I have a social responsibility to do so. The communities in which I choose to photograph are reminiscent of my hometown, and thus demand my attention. However, they are in constant flux from nature and nurture: Seniors who have lived through the segregation and civil rights eras are diminishing in numbers, while young lives are dispensable due to police brutality, mass incarceration and gun violence. Also, over the years, inner cities have become the next frontier for urban planners, developers, and speculators. Communities that are predominantly black are shrinking in size as their boundaries are encroached by economic progress, which most often does not trickle down to the working class. Entire neighborhoods are dispersed and displaced. There is urgency in my work, because I am attempting to record the lives, lifestyles, and architecture in the midst of this rapid change.
Being a part of Art Basel/Soul Basel is…Art Basel is basically Christmas for the artist. It’s a few days of coming together in celebration collectively, as a worldwide creative community. Individually it’s a chance to reflect on the culmination of projects over time, or projects challenged specifically to Art Basel, and while it is important for showcasing my creative DNA, it’s also a great opportunity for me to influence people with my ideas and objectives. Soul Basel is extremely special to me because I am Soul Basel. It’s overflowing with colour. It’s the verse in diverse. It shouts “We are here and we’re relevant to the conversation. In fact we are the conversation.”
My ultimate goal for my work is…to continue building and adding to my already large collection of images, narratives, conversations in South Florida and eventually present it to the public as a whole entity, keeping the entire body of work together. Then I can focus on replicating this project back home, in Trinidad and Tobago.
Rahaman’s work will be featured in The New Tropic and Fondasyon Zaka/ZakaFest presentation of “Little Haiti After Dark: Kreyol Basel” December 3-5, starting at 6 p.m. The “After Dark” photographic exhibit gathers the work of four photographers who collectively tell the story of Little Haiti’s community within a community. For more information and full schedule of Little Haiti After Dark: Kreyol Basel, please visit: zakafest.com/kreyol-basel or contact: Jaury “Jay” Jean-Enard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 786.506.0233.