'British' is a photography exhibition at B-Side by Walé & The Print Room in London next month, that explores the multi-cultural nature of British identity.
Taking his own iconic ‘British’ T-shirt, a celebration of multicultural ‘Britishness’, as his starting point the fashion designer Walé Adeyemi commissioned photographer Zadoc Nava to document the changing face of Britain. Using the street as his studio, Nava has produced a series of compelling portraits that reflect the diverse nature of contemporary British society.
The series deliberately avoids geographical specificity to focus on the people, not the location. A number of carefully considered, individual portraits are presented alongside a series of street portraits. On the crowded streets, the subjects appear lost in contemplation, immersed in a world of their own, or defiant and uncompromising as they return the photographer’s gaze.
The photographs are not staged but they possess a deliberate implication of narrative as if the people photographed are characters in an imaginary film; expressions and body language allude to real-life stories and experiences, unspoken fears and desires. There are moments of brevity and unexpected humour but as the euphoria of the 2012 Games recedes and the recession lingers the images reveal a mood of melancholy and uncertainty.
Ultimately, the diversity revealed in the images demonstrates the impossibility of defining anyone, all-encompassing notion of ‘Britishness’. Instead, we are offered a captivating glimpse of difference and individuality - a national identity shaped by a legacy of Empire and migration.
This intersection between fashion design and photography has produced a unique perspective on contemporary Britain. The exhibition is a B-Side by Walé & Print Room production and made possible with the financial assistance of the University for the Creative Arts.
Via direct submission | All images courtesy of Zadoc Nava