Not Your Collective, Their Collective.

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Collective, photography collective. What exactly is a collective? A collective is the coming together of artists (in this case photographers), who have similar ambitions and goals. The coming together is often in response to the need to overcome an obstacle, and the joining of forces helps to spread the load of promoting ones work amongst all the members. In doing so the intention and hope is that as a group all the members can rise together and support each other while doing so.

Earlier in the year I got exposed to the idea of collectives and really have been trying to figure out how I could form such a movement or be a part of such a movement. This lead me to do research in to the many collectives that have existed and still exist today. The collective that stood out to me the most was that of the Kamoinge. What is Kamoinge? Kamoinge was a minority collective established when they were ignored by the established collectives in the 60s. They were photographers who were not invited to or welcomed by the collective or the art world in the 60s. Who are they? Kamoinge was a collective of black photographers, including Louis Draper, James Ray Francis, Herman Howard, Earl James, Calvin Mercer, Herb Randall, Albert Fennar, Shawn Walker, and James Mannas.

Kamoinge? What does it mean, and where did it come from? The word means ‘a group of people coming together’. The name was derived from a Kenyan language called Gikuyu. Perfect name to describe the coming together of this great group of artists to help better and further their artistic creations. The mission of this collective was one of black artists coming together seeking artistic equality and empowerment. Their goal was to nurture, challenge, critique, and ultimately advance the work of unrepresented/underrepresented (sadly because of their race) photographers who were largely ignored by the establishment. They strived to tell their people’s story in a more just and balanced manner. Who better to tell the story of the minority than the minority artist him and eventually her self.

Kamoinge in 2019 is not exactly making big moves, but they do have a presence on all of the social platforms. I do hope to find out more about them and all the great work they’ve created over the years. In doing my research I hope to implement what I’ve learned from them and other collectives, in the hopes of making a collective that has as their main goal the mission to add something of true value to the world and hopefully enact change with our collective lenses and minds.

Here is their YouTube channel and their website.


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