Recommended by renowned fashion photographer Jean Baptise Mondino who said: “you are a photographer now and good one, you have your own vision, world and purpose” Benji Reid is an artist with a singular vision. Following Charlie Schaffer’s assertion that the technical mastery of a medium is only 5% of artistry Reid has transcended photography to create personal works that speak to his experiences as an individual relayed but not defined by ideas of blackness, hip-hop, Northern English, depression, hard won optimism, and the universal search for the sublime.
“My mind’s eye is always drawn towards the dramatic, the incongruous that speaks of the many worlds that reside within us, which in turn sheds light on our humanity.” – Benji Reid
In these times of negative news the sense of anti-gravity in Benji’s work speaks to our loftiest hopes for the end of lockdown and the world that will come after.
“I could talk about the African diaspora which is such a beautiful theme or even about afrofuturism. But here’s something else I offer: the proposition of the African body being in a future space, a reimagined space, all the places out of the mundane. One of the important questions is how do we stop ourselves being so earthbound? My whole idea is about space and futures, where we’re going… this is where I see ourselves as free beings operating in another dimension, another time. This is the reason why weightlessness constantly comes up. We don’t have to be bound by the here and now. We can be bound by our futuristic imagination. So that is part of a political statement of not being forced to be the rapper with the big gold chain, or struggling on the floor going, ‘No, wait a minute.’ I’m operating outside of these bounds of norm. That’s why I’m talking about reframing.
For instance, we take the classic Superstar shell toe that has been worn by B-Boys since the 60s and 70s, but then we offer a reimagining where that shoe can sit in space. So I’m still speaking to the B-Boys, the hip-hoppers, but I’m also going, ‘Where else can we be? Where else can we occupy space?’ They’re part of the tropes that I keep pulling on because I’m not abandoning them, I’m just reframing them. I feel a lot of my works are like one-image poems, that they have all these things we recognise but they’ve slightly been rejigged to say something else about our humanity.” – Benji Reid in Trebuchet issue 8.
Benji Reid appears courtesy of October Gallery, London.
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle