Yesterday I went to the guest lecture from Mahtab Hussain, a British social commentary photographer. I found this really helpful as I want to go down the documentary route with my own work, and Mahtab’s work and the way he talked about the projects and the people that he met and photographed was inspiring. He uses photography to explore the relationship between identity, heritage and displacement. The themes of the project have developed through his long-term photographic research and his images challenge the current concepts of multiculturalism. Before he photographed the people he spent a very long time getting to know the community and the people to fully understand what he was doing, which I think is important in this kind of work.
‘You Get Me?’
“This series addresses the changing identity of young, British, working class Asian men in Birmingham, England… At the centre of Hussain’s work is the struggle these young men face as they attempt to develop a sense of identity in contemporary Britain… What these intimate portraits reveal is a crisis of the individual, divided between a profound sense to belong and to assimilate, while set against the pull of cultural and religious restraints.” (Taken from the statement about ‘You Get Me?’ on his site.)
“Following the Second World War and the break up of the British Empire, Pakistanis were invited by English employers to fill labour shortages… As a result of modern conflicts, Muslims from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia, among others, have settled in these same areas, resulting in a perpetual cycle of poverty and struggle. These areas are commonly referred to as Muslim ghettos. Hussain examines how this shift in ownership has impacted a country that was once predominantly English.”
I think these type of photographs of just objects, the areas and buildings work really well as they make you wonder who the things belong to, what’s the story behind the images and locations and although they don’t reveal people they’re really intriguing.