For a long time I’ve admired the work of David Miller. He writes in his personal blog and on the Traveler’s Notebook about commodification and codification in travel writing. Often times people tend to romanticize and essentialize about place and don’t recognize that their experience in a place is just that, uniquely theirs. By recognizing our own experience we can both value it for its personal meaning and allow the place a multi-faceted representation.
African Lens is a website that, in my opinion, is seeking to put forth alternative stories about a place often codified and commodified. “The dominant representation of Africa today is one of war, poverty, disease and everything that can go wrong with humanity. It is famously referred to as the “forgotten continent”. African Lens is designed as a platform to document and present a visual Africa in an unbiased way . It is also a medium to showcase different aspects of our every day lives and serve as an advocate to compelling stories that need to be told. Content will be generated from everywhere – from the established photojournalist to user contributions.”
photo by Flaviana Frascogna
On African Lens you can find a lot of gorgeous and informative photos, with context about where and what they are from. All of the photo essays on the site juxtaposed together begin to paint a complex picture or Africa. Of course there are some problems when one considers that in order to contribute to these representations of Africa one must have internet access, camera equipment, and the time to witness and photograph these daily goings-on. However, I think it is a step forward to recognize and display some of the different sides of this diverse continent that aren’t always depicted in the mainstream media.
photo by Mario Gerth
post by Jackie Clark