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Your Space Or Mine

Pogus Caesar

This installment of our Your Space Or Mine spotlight series is an interview with iconic artist Pogus Caesar. In addition to kindly sparing the time to talk to us Caesar has contributed two remarkable and apt images currently displayed on the streets UK wide in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Born in St Kitts, West Indies, Pogus Caesar grew up in Birmingham, UK. Originally a painter, a regional and national promoter of multi-cultural arts, acclaimed photographer, journalist, award winning film director and producer, a publisher…In short a polymath. But our focus is photography.

One of Caesar’s works currently up in our cities is called Black Skin, White Palm, Same Blood (2008) and shows a huddle of young black women and men standing in the street. The men are in the background, in the foreground a woman is facing away from the camera but holding up her outstretched palm so it becomes the focal point in the centre of the frame. ‘Talk to the hand…’ No Justice. No Peace.

The second image Just Wan’t To Be Loved (2017) comes from Caesar’s series ‘Righting the Wrongs’ and features a grainy close up portrait of a young black man overwritten with plaintive and provocative phrases: ‘revolutionary skin like me’, ‘dollar a day like me’, ‘live on the streets like me’, ‘still wanna be me?’

Last year we collaborated with Caesar’s Handsworth 1985 Revisited project which occupied our poster sites across Birmingham. Caesar’s photographs of the 1985 riots were paired with poems by the writer, musician and activist Benjamin Zephaniah. The resulting street display was a hard-hitting social document and evocative reminder of the racial stereotyping and social inequality that still, as we’ve recently been reminded again, blights the world.

When asked what first spurred his interest in taking pictures the photographer and academic Paul Halliday said ‘I realised that there was something quite magical about photography, something musical and poetic, and I saw that in photography I could combine the things that kept me interested in the world, that enabled me to think about society and my place in it.’

We dig deeper into the mind of Caesar, who takes us on a stroll through his photographic work, inspiration and thoughts on using photography as a medium for societal change in the interview below.

Carleen De Sözer - Your Space Or Mine

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