Britain Loves Africa (An ongoing project)
"When I was 19 I fell for a Zanzibari boy while on a teaching placement there. My relationship to the island was hugely influenced, if not defined by, my feelings for Saidi – both familiar and beguiling.
Then, as a young photographer I wanted to counterbalance the tired media portrayal of a hopeless Africa, but felt inhibited to show the images I was making because of my problematic white-girl-with-a-camera status. I recognised that all my interactions, both socially and photographically, were influenced by my foreign-ness; perhaps my whiteness, my relative wealth or my gender. While this unearned status helped me to meet the people I photographed, I was concerned that it also threatened the authenticity of my stories. This feeling, which reflects the contentious links between the two lands’ recent histories, is common among Britons in Africa, however it’s rarely expressed. I’m exploring the contemporary manifestations of this complex inheritance from an intimate perspective.
I’ve captured relationships between Britons and Africans living in Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia over two years (and will go to Nigeria this autumn). I'm interested in whether an intimate connection to a local person in a foreign land offers a short cut on the road to assimilation?
I often wonder if the thrill of becoming fractionally less foreign day by day is at the heart of the bond I feel with these ‘far away places’. Every conversation, every glance brings me a little closer to knowing. But I will never know, and that’s the magic. Every moment is new and every moment is something gained; a muse, a catalyst, a question to never quite answer."
Briony will be speaking about Britain Loves Africa on June 12th at Photoforum in London: www.photo-forum.org.
Briony Campbell was born, and is based, in London. Her photography has been published extensively in the UK and European press, and has been recognized by several international awards. ‘The Dad Project’ has been exhibited at The Photographers Gallery and Getty Images Gallery.
June's featured photographer was Briony Campbell