Brazilian French photographer Carolina Arantes is the winner of the 2017 Firecracker Photographic Grant for her ongoing project First Generation, exploring the lives of Afro-French women living in the Il de France region surrounding Paris.
Between 1975 and 1980 there was a high level of family reunification immigration from Africa to France. The first generation born in France from this wave of immigration is now coming of age. Arantes' topical project aims to explore issues of national identity through the lives of these first-generation Afro-French women as they navigate the conflict between European liberal culture and the traditional education of their parents.
She hopes to reveal her subjects' quest for identity whilst they simultaneously work for financial independence, freedom as women, and above all, for a socio-cultural space that will legitimise their mixed culture. Arantes chose to focus on the women as their place in this process of integration is critical – many still carry the greater responsibility of family, work and cultural transmission than their male counterparts.
Of the project, Carolina says: "Between colonialism and cosmopolitism, between a sense of not belonging and their nationality, many use the word 'Schizophrenie' to describe how it is to construct their identity in the middle of two antagonistic cultures.
"For the black women of France, conquering their place in society is an individual and persistent movement that constantly met with obstacles on sexism and on prejudice. Although they face the same troubles as all women in modern times, they have also to face the historical opposition force of a recent colonization social mentality and have to overcome economic and lack of education problems that result from their parent's immigration origin."
The Firecracker Photographic Grant is an initiative of Firecracker, a platform supporting women photographers, created by Fiona Rogers. Arantes will receive £2,000 funding and professional support to aid the completion of her project. The Grant is made possible through support from Genesis Imaging.
Main image: Girls celebrating a wedding party at the building yard. Deuil-la-Barre, Ile de France From the series ‘First Generation’ © Carolina Arantes