Art as a protest and expression was the focal theme of the latest biannual event held by WomEnpowered International. On 24th July, an interactive online session was held which presented the perspectives of WE Int member, Serah Alabi’s, academic and artistic work as a Tokyo-based photographer and writer.
Serah is actively involved in exploring the intersections of race and gender through art, evident in her exhibitions: “Black & Beautiful: Black Women’s Voices in Japan” held at UltraSuperNew gallery in Harajuku and “The Grey Area: Between Sexuality and Identity” at The Hive, Tokyo. She is also the co-founder of 8:46, an organization operating events in support of Black Lives Matter in Tokyo.
The conversation led us through Serah’s professional work as well as her more personal experiences. She discussed the intricacies of the patriarchal male gaze in photography depicting women as passive objects to be viewed to satisfy the appetites of men. The focal point of the discussion however, was centred around her interest in creating a platform for the female gaze. An evolving concept that intends to capture the diversity of female identities and challenge the patriarchal stereotype. The conversation was enriched with examples from the work of Araki Nobuyoshi, Mari Katayama and Kennedi Carter among other photographers.
Later, participants were all invited to put on their creative hats and take part in the art of visual storytelling. We divided into groups and we were all set the challenge of curating a conceptual photograph that captured a message or story by employing various photographic techniques. Individuals took on the roles of model, photographer or artistic advisor, and members were given 10 minutes to collaboratively come up with an image.
The final part of the event involved a discussion on all the images that the different teams created and a Q&A session with Serah. In light of the recent Black Lives Movement, Serah also shared some businesses we could support to take part in the movement ourselves. What a way to connect, move and build awareness about the intention, emotion and power behind photography!
Some POC creatives you can support in Tokyo: