Liz Johnson Artur’s photographs capture the vibrancy of black youth culture

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Individuality and charisma shine in each of his photographs. Its archives are not a single monolithic portrait, but a complex collection of stories. “My records are… every person I meet, which is a lot more complex than just being in the diaspora,” she said.

Johnson Artur’s shoots are often brief encounters on the street, though she also captures people she sees over and over again through the rituals of everyday life. Some of his subjects have become his friends. She enjoys being in a happy space with music, where she can “float”, as she puts it, and naturally get closer to people. She often carries small film cameras, but is also known to use the large format, a process that takes more time, stillness and commitment.

All of Johnson Artur’s photos are presented untitled and undated to give each image equal weight and to allow unexpected visual connections to form between them. “I tried to eliminate things around the photographs that take away from… just looking at that moment that the photo represents,” she explained. That idea, which she says makes archives more democratic, runs from her shows to her untitled fabric-bound 2016 book – which was designed simply with just one image per page – and her website.


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