Viewed from the outside, pursuing photography and dropping a career in financial development with the African Development Bank is a drastic change but Maroussia Mbaye sees it as a natural evolution. Her want to understand and fight inequalities is better done through the camera lens she believes.
Based in Somone, Senegal she explores the beauty of Africa in her work. Capturing the lives of people and expressing her ‘allergy to injustice and inequality’ which is omnipresent in her photos.
New African: Photography is a tool that lets you show the world as you perceives it. So what is your Africa?
Maroussia Mbaye: My Africa is dynamic, vibrant, resourceful, beautiful, soar, diverse and unique. It’s a hiatus where tradition, culture and values still make for the foundation of society but where external influences has given rise to a multi cultural generation which has embraced this multi-dimensional continent and is thriving to bring it to it’s full potential.
How does Africa serve as an area for inspiration compared to other parts of the world?
Africa’s rawness has always been an inspiration to me. It’s a continent that reveals the reality that is the folly of humanity in all its forms: the beautiful, the tragic, the alarming and provoking, the peculiar, the humoristic, the lovely, the terrifying, the generous, the violent.
Your personal photography focuses on human elements – how is this portrayal of people a depiction of Africa and how do you believe it challenges existing stereotypes of Africa?
Africa is the cradle of humanity; it is made up of numerous, multiple and sometimes overlaying facets and my photography tries to reflect that. My photographs can be joyful, alarming, provoking and engaging – they try to show the human, portraying and communicating the moments that reveal the social, political and economic environment of this extraordinary continent. This is very important, as it is essential to move away from misrepresentation and problematic stereotypes pervading photographs that can shape values, expectations and mindsets both within Africa and from the West.
Scroll through Maroussia Mbaye’s entries into the #CelebrateAfrica competition, below.
What area of Africa has been the most inspiring for you?
My own African heritage, the solidarity, culture, people, colours, smells and sounds; combined with the astonishing varying landscapes have always been for me a source of inspiration, meditation and reflexion about the world we live in and our individual responsibility in preserving the fragile equilibrium that is life and everything it encompasses (from preserving the environment to the responsibility we hold as a human race to one another). However, having said that there is so much for me still to see, discover and experience on this continent that the areas of inspiration are constantly been challenged and evolving, as is Africa.
How would you describe your style of photography?
My style of photography focuses on presenting my vision of humanity; seeking out moving and at times unsettling, perspective shifting images of life and the living. I constantly try to discover through my journey and photographs new dimensions of the physical and human world. For me it is the rawness and reality of life that creates that “moment” which I attempt to capture.
This may vary greatly but could you contextualise your favourite types of shoots?
My favourite shoots are often very spontaneous in the sense that my images are never posed or constructed. This involves spending time with my subjects, exchanging, observing and in some occasions even taking part in daily activities. I find that the best photographs are those when people ‘forget’ that I am there, thus allowing me to capture and show them in ‘their reality’. This is essential as an image captures only a moment but there is the before and the after and is thus subject to either misrepresentation or interpretation. It is important to remember that a photograph is a three way exchange of perceptions that of the photographer, his subject and the observer.
How would you describe the current African photography landscape?
As for almost every areas, the African photography landscape is constantly evolving, reflecting the on-going changes in African society. The growing number of internationally renowned exhibitions focusing on African photography and showcasing continental photographers reflects the dynamism and urge to document, record and express visions of the Africa and the world. This, in turn contributing to moving the continent forward. However, much still to be done in terms of exposing those voices to the world and within Africa.
Join Maroussia and enter the competition here: https://www.picfair.com/celebrateafrica. Be one of 100 winners. Stand the chance to either win a trip for two, to a destination of your choosing, or win Canon photography equipment including DSLR cameras.