Aa'ishah Abrahams, is a Cape Town based photographer who I came across on Instagram this March and was one of our exhibiting artists for our launch exhibition series at Gallery One11, called Blurring Lines. At first Aa'ishah did not believe me when I invited her to be apart of our exhibition, she first went to ask Marita, GalleryOne11 owner (and amazing human who allowed us into her space for those 3 glorious weeks for our launch exhibition series) to check that I and Miss H Collective wasn’t a hoax.
We all know that there are scammers out there, but when the core of this doubt stems from being a woman of colour and the lack of belief is based on lack of opportunity- this is something where everyone (including myself!) should just stop for a moment and swallow hard on that privilege cookie- it’s real.
At the start of the day I didn’t know what Aa'ishah looked like or who she was- I just knew that I liked her work and I felt it represented something I wanted to be present in the Blurring lines show, which was about painting the environment as the canvas for mass acceptance or change in allowing or denying one's truth to naturally and unapologetically unfold. Like most artists- their work represents apart of them; in Aa'ishah's case I found calm with a strong undercurrent of poise and strength in her portraits.
The first time I met her, we sat at Clarke’s and talked more about the show and I had to really explain how very serious I was about having her be apart of it (which was very humbling and heart warming to witness.) What started out as a simple ‘ Hey I really like your work’ to leaving that sit down feeling inspired with my own work through meeting her and hearing about her and her work- this is what Miss H Collective is meant to be about… being inclusive and putting passion at the forefront to everything we do, collectively.
At the end of the day, to have found this very talented lady was a blessing! With texts about which cafes she had asked about putting up show posters, to multiple visits to the gallery as we were setting up to offer a hand, to arranging a special shoot for the piece she displayed ( which is breath taking, holds power in its conceptualisation and speaks a truth which is collective in it’s portrayal), the girl who isn’t afraid to ask the ‘silly questions’ and doesn’t make excuses for not doing things.
During our first encounter- the topic of not knowing how to approach getting her work into galleries or environments to be seen was very 'alive'. Alive in the sense that it is a big reality. Often being a 'creative' can be painted as a title only few may hold, if they mingle in the right circles or have the right job, and to know that Aa'ishah, after our chat, approached a few restaurants about getting her work in there- this is a moment where I realised that even though we may say something along the lines of 'Go after what you want', sometimes a little encouragement and support is all that is needed to make a difference in how someone sees their own work, and to really feel like that statement holds truth and power and not just make one reconsider their craft.
Aa'ishah got into photography as a teenager and has a passion to explore forms and tell societal stories through fashion photohgraphy. She is currently studying marketing full time and instead of fretting about not having the chance to be doing photoraphy full time, she sees her position as one that she will use in the future to build her brand around her creative work. (Trust and patience!)
I have yet come across someone where the word resourceful holds so much respect, and I say that with no element of pity (resourcefulresourcefulresourceful!) as you would never have known she edited her picture for the show on her phone (well now you do- but I wouldn’t believe me either don’t worry!) Aa'isha's piece for Blurring Lines was called Preserving pureness.
“This artwork aims at challenging your perception of how you view a queer body in the LGBTQ community.
The term ‘brave enough to live their own truth’ is depicted trough this artwork as seeing the veil used as a shield preserving the subjects pureness as queer body but is also transparent enough for the viewer to catch a glimpse of that very pureness and experience the subjects own truth .
The hand reaching out is as if the subject is allowing the viewer to see what it wants them to see and is imposing on the viewer’s space but with the most serenity.
Within society there is a resistance that people face when reviling who they truly are and within the LGBTQ community that very resistance is more challenging due to everyone not being as accepting as they should be.”
(M.H) We’ve built Miss H Collective on celebrating the power of what Art is- WHAT IS ART to you? ART to me is the power to express yourself in ways other than words, art gives you that platform to fully stand up for what you believe in , art is you . Art is appreciated and accepted regardless of the medium, it exceeds the expectations of beauty.
(M.H) What inspires your work and tell us about your approach?
Being able to move people and make them feel a certain way once they seen my work inspires me to create more . I want to create work that will move people whether it be the concept that appeals to them or just the shooting style.
(M.H) How important is for you to be able to have the freedom to create work that is solely based on your own expression rather than just commissioning/creating work to briefs for others? I Find the only way I will really better my craft is if I concentrate more on personal projects rather that gigs due to the fact that working by myself will broaden my skills and it won't be focused solely on photography, it'll shed light on my styling and creative directing aswell . I'll put more effort into something I've conceptualized myself because i feel passionate about it and I know exactly what the outcome should be.
(M.H) You're currently studying, will you go into photographing full time when you are done?
I'm considering taking a photography course once I'm studying my marketing degree . I know that I need to learn to learn more about photography and the works behind a great photograph.
(M.H) What future art projects are you working on? I've been conceptualising with a friend of mine that is currently studying her btech in fashion design to help portray the strength of young black woman , especially in the creative industry , I personally fell that young talented blacks woman in Cape town don't get enough recognition in the industry.
(M.H) Do you find that art is accessible in Cape Town? Besides first Thursday that is apparently centered around exposing local art by making most art galleries around Cape town free , I don't feel that there is enough accessible local art especially that of young talented Creatives . I'd like there to be a space in Cape town that would do pop up exhibitions at least every 2 weeks so that almost everyone can get that bit of spotlight on their work and experience what's it's like to be apart of an exhibition aswell .
(M.H) What kind of platform/ establishment would you like to see your work displayed on?I'd love my work to be published in a local magazine such as the lake or to be exhibited for a certain period of time at a local cafe of restaurant
(M.H) Thoughts on collaboration?
I enjoy doing collaborations with artists that I share the same artistic views with and that are open to fully expressing themselves unapologetically. Although , collaborations can be tricky in a sense that whoever you're working with might only be working with you for your name and not for your talent unfortunately .
(M.H) Do you think there should be more collaborative efforts or more funding opportunities for personal projects? Yes I definitely think there should be , I feel that it would also encourage artists to work on projects they've created but haven't gotten around to actually doing because of a lack of resources or funds.
(M.H) Thoughts on community and public art- and what would you like to see more of in Cape Town? I'd like to see more collaborations of different emerging artists and establishments, we all should be helping each other regardless of what the project is requiring us to do , for example, you might be a really dope photographer but your styling skills aren't that great which would give some young talented designer an opportunity to get their foot into the industry.
(M.H) Any comments from the Blurring Lines exhibition hosted at Gallery One11? I wanna personally thank Jess for giving me the opportunity to be apart of the blurring lines exhibition, the exhibition itself was amazing , it was exactly what Cape town needed , it shed light on talented local artists and really captured the diversity of the artists.
To many more projects together and to being strong and proud in telling your stories.. THANK YOU!
Keep an eye out for this young talent XX
Miss H XX