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INZAJEANO LATIF: INVISIBLE VISIBLE

Inzajeano is a London-based photographer who does striking portraits. His work www.inzajeano.com captures solemn subjects bathed in poignant lighting.  When I first saw his work online, I knew I had to chat with him ... 

“… The high profile art scene there is not really filled with what I would describe as artists, but with people who know the ‘right people’ within the industry. The more left field or underground scene is what I love about London …”

MICHAEL: Hello Inzajeano, your photographic portraits intrigue me.  You really capture this mundane, ordinary, everyday thing in people who seem to be melancholy and perhaps bored.  How do you see these portraits?

INZAJEANO: Ordinary life is what intrigues me and is one of the pretexts for compelling me to take portraits. We often miss so much of what’s around us, so in my work I make the invisible visible. I also try in my portraits to leave a space, a gap for the viewer to fill hence they are allowed to impose themselves within what they see perhaps based on their own life experiences.  Voids can always be filled.

MICHAEL: What are some of those invisible things that you're seeking to expose?  Why do we need to see the invisible?  If they were so important, wouldn't we be already seeing them?

INZAJEANO: Society today has become so fast paced. We do not have time to stop, look and listen as much as we did in the past. We forget, we skim over situations, lives, scenes.  Essentially stories that need a voice. This is what I try to bring across in my imagery. We have more choices than we ever did. The invisible that I share is also a choice for the viewer to see or not. One thing is to look and the other is to feel.

MICHAEL: Light clearly plays a huge role in your work.  It almost seems like a subject unto itself.  This sounds like a silly question, but how do you use light to make the invisible visible?

INZAJEANO: Light is an essential need to humanity as it is to photography.  Light emerges from darkness so in my case the use of light speaks for itself.

MICHAEL: Let's dig deeper.  What actually gets you out of bed in the morning to create these portraits?  What exactly are you trying to expose? Why should people even care?  How are you using light to expose these things?

INZAJEANO: Light allows me to create the moods I need to visually tell my story.  A light that helps define my narrative.  I like to tell stories of people and places that we would not normally hear about for whatever reasons. I find the mundane truly fascinating and I feel this comes across in an interesting manner in each of my projects.

MICHAEL: You know, a lot of people are trying to escape their mundane lives.  They want magic and bigger and better things. They don't want boring, everyday, mundane things that may seem depressing.  What do you think about this?

INZAJEANO: To an extent I agree with you, but then everyone has a version of what the mundane is and how to interpret it. I simply present people with lives that are often unseen and allow them to feel the 'magic' through the imagery I create.

I also think that what might be mundane, ordinary to some could be completely fascinating to others.  Of late, there has been a huge trend to have the most sensational imagery one can capture tell a story. You only have to look at the world press awards to see how something that also could be viewed as mundane suddenly becomes a hot shot due to its shock value. I try to tell stories through simple nuances that allow the viewer to search as opposed to seduce them with the shock of the other.

MICHAEL: Interesting.  Are you part of the London art scene?  What's the art world like there?  Do everyday British people collect contemporary art?  How can we get more people interested in art?

INZAJEANO: At the moment, I'm not as I am in South Africa working on a couple of personal projects. However, about nine months ago, I was working as an art director and curator at a London gallery.  I realised that the high profile art scene there is not really filled with what I would describe as artists, but with people who know the ‘right people’ within the industry. The more left field or underground scene is what I love about London; the fact that real artists make work regardless of where the work is headed.

With regard to whether the Brits collect work, yes they do and many more people now know artists, so work is a lot more accessible. There's a lot more choice too, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

There are a number of ways I think we can get people interested in visual art.  We need more accessible platforms that aren't pretentious or egotistical as to not chase artists and art lovers away.  Many of the larger establishments are more like showrooms with work for sale and the very ways that the works are displayed make no sense at all.

So we should look at new ways to show and share works.  Have forums where creatives can come together and discuss ideas on art and how to take art into different dimensions. Overall, just stop thinking in the boxes that have been provided and break free of the pretentious nonsense that we have become accustomed to.  There is a lot of amazing work being created and I think we need to work together on a global level in order to allow it to shine. Art should never be based on one's affluent background, but on the effort and talent you have as an individual or group. I would also like to add that the more face to face encounters we have with each other as artists and art lovers, the better.

MICHAEL: When did you first become aware of yourself as an artist?  Do you come from an artistic family?

INZAJEANO: My mother is an artist and has been as far back as I can remember. I owe her a lot as it definitely rubbed off on me.  I've always been a dreamer, a thinker and spend most times in my own world. Maybe I have always been an artist. I do know that it's something that ignites me from within. Whenever I'm thinking about projects, ideas or photographing, I feel so alive. The visual language is what I feel comfortable using and hope I have the opportunity to do so until I leave this beautiful planet.

MICHAEL: What role do you think art plays in the world today?  Does the world really need art?

INZAJEANO: Art in some aspects plays a wonderful role in the world. We need it for ourselves as well as sharing what we are about. It gives people insight into who we are.  Art is a powerful tool that can be used to help people in amazing ways. It ignites our imaginations in ways other things cannot.  It allows us to formulate things in a fluid manner allowing us to go against systematic fundamentals of society.  It's escapism, it's another way - we need it.

MICHAEL: I would love to see your work in video form.  Have you ever thought about or explored that?

INZAJEANO: I have thought about video very much.  I have written a short story that I would love to start one day. I want to see how much I can do with silence and whether or not silence can add or take away from its narrative.  Not to say that I wish to make silent films, but rather films that slowly drift into the viewers mind and soul.  So yes, I am very keen on entering the world of moving image.

MICHAEL: I think your video idea will work indeed.  I'm here if you need some extra eyes when your project is in "beta" phase.  LOL.  Finally Inzajeano, what's the point of art?  Art isn't saving the world, so why should people care?

INZAJEANO: Thanks Michael, I really appreciate that. For me, art starts from within; it's a former of self expression, a way of telling your stories.  It’s a way that deviates from normal forms of storytelling that we have become accustomed to through mass media.  We all have stories to tell and some of us are blessed enough to not only realise this, but to channel it through various mediums.  Mine just happens to be looking through the lens.  The more stories we share, the more we can understand and maybe help each other along the way do art that can save the world because it certainly saved me from many dark times.

MICHAEL: I understand.  Thanks Inzajeano.  Nice chat.

INZAJEANO: I really enjoyed the way in which you interview and also appreciate you wanting to know more about my work and then sharing it.  It has been a lovely experience.

Check out Inzajeano at www.inzajeano.com.



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