Liz Johnson Artur
Photographer Liz Johnson Artur was born in 1964, and grew up in Bulgaria, Russia and Germany. The Russian-Ghanaian artist started taking pictures in 1985, in Brooklyn and soon moved to London in 1991. Her most recent photo book demonstrates this journey of over 25 years-worth of the black experience spanning almost every continent; birthdays, parties, church Sundays, weddings, and the ‘mundane’ everyday. Artur’s own multicultural background pushed her to seek a diverse and authentic representation of blackness, and establish the thread of shared common experiences of the African diaspora. In 2010, her installation, ‘Black Balloon Archive’ in Brixton market, London saw her exhibit thousands of her photographs alongside a portrait studio for visitors.
Artur’s candid shots portray a beauty undefined and unrestricted by the mould so often replicated; of the black experience through a white-washed lens. Her gaze is not ignorant or imposing. She seeks only to show individuals as individuals, their personalities – be it reserved and unbothered or extravagant and demonstrative, are their own. The facial expressions of each of her subjects tell their unique stories; capturing the emotion of a specific moment in time.
Working men playfully clamour in front of each other, a vehicle their accessory. Young women sit at a function, natural, un-posed, even unaware of their public environment. Even with her subjects seated, her photographs bear a real time quality where the motion of everyday never ceases. Artur presents her personalities in all their grace; whatever age or gender – the nuanced spirit of blackness is alive and free.
Artur received her MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art in London and went on to teach at the London College of Communication. She currently works as an editorial photographer and photojournalist for various fashion and music magazines worldwide.
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