In his forthcoming exhibition “See me See you” photographer Eric Gyamfi encourages open dialogue about queer life in Ghana
In Public – The art of street photography
In his forthcoming exhibition “See me See you”, photographer Eric Gyamfi explores a visual narrative based on personal travels and mini-adventures, thus exposing personal archive. In an interactive installation, he encourages open dialogue about queer life in Ghana.
See me See you is the shortened form for the pidgin expression you see me I see you, meaning, mutual acknowledgment.
Gyamfi’s body of work developed for the most of 2016 is an invitation for viewers to see queer lives, by recognizing their everyday humanity or sameness. This exhibition challenges the very act of seeing others by domesticating queer lives through showing them as people who are “just like us” as the series title suggests. By exposing this personal archive, Eric Gyamfi interrogates society’s perception of queer lies, similarly exposing his own interactions with the community, in so doing replacing societal antagonism with depictions of endearing friendships.
Why do sexual minorities exist?” “Who are they and how do they live?” “How different are their everyday lives and does that threaten mine?” “How similar or different are we and in what ways do our lives and experiences intersect?” “How significant are our differences?” With these questions, “See me See you” becomes the beginning of a journal about the lives of queer friends, who Gyamfi calls “participants, and others I meet along the way who have and will possibly lend themselves to this continuous visual record of daily, ordinary life that exists outside of the heteronormative, yet also within it — a record of our existence and eventually as part of the cumulative history of Ghana.
“I am interested in using photography as a starting point to interrogate established social systems, labels, and separation within the contemporary Ghanaian context and of the people that live outside of these systems one way or the other.
Who makes up a majority and when does one consider him/herself a part of a minority. Are people who live outside of these systems necessarily minorities? What are the intersectionalities between the two and how do the people found outside of these perceived social systems negotiate their lives around the accepted routine. How consistent are the convictions of being in a majority and vice versa.
“My first venture into this subject was on sexual identity. Through self-portraits, I began to explore the possible reasons why I considered myself a minority and whether that consideration was valid. I explored the idea of separation again, positioning myself as an in between, within the political and socio-cultural space, of my country Ghana, who is still negotiating her way between the old and modernity, and the repercussions from these tensions. I created Asylum, figuratively as temporary safety while I still went on figuring out where I fit within that space.
After I created the witches of Gambaga, I began to be drawn to the ideas of oneness and the universality of some experiences. I became interested in presenting human sameness, our connection as living things. My current work”
Still working on gender and sexual identity primarily, his work still questions the validity of the built social system, which automatically requires people to live within or outside of it. “ I am particularly interested in this concept from the point of African sexualities and how they come together with class, gender, and ability to inform self expression and systematic oppression. It is still very much about the quest to secure a sense of self and place within a space that is also struggling for same.”