Friday, February 17, 2012

Photo Shoot for The Black Umbrella Studio's Anti-Abuse Campaign, "Wife Beater"

I had a photo shoot a couple of weeks ago with my friend Yoko from The Black Umbrella, a photography studio based out of Toronto, Ontario.  The studio currently has an anti-abuse awareness initiative called "Wife Beater," featuring local musicans, actors and other artistic personalities wearing the infamous 'wife beater' tank top in various environments.  Here's a statement from the studio's Facebook page about the campaign:
"Domestic abuse can exist in many forms, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse.  This cultural phenomenon is visible in every single nation, race, sex and class that resides on this planet.  Wife Beater is a series intent on raising an awareness and healthy discussion based on the concept/reality of domestic abuse."
There is a train bridge behind my apartment building that used to be covered in gang tags and foul language.  Garbage was strewn everywhere, it was rather filthy.  Across the bridge is a local public school; families use the bridge quite often to get to and from school.  I would imagine looking at swear words painted on cement just outside the playground can make children rather curious in unnecessary ways, so it was wonderful to see the transformation.  The city of Brampton had started a 'neighbourhood beautification' initiative of sorts and commissioned local artists to turn seedy-looking environments like this bridge and cover it with inspirational art. 

I had sent a few quick shots to Yoko to give him an idea of the place.  It's great to see that someone saw potential in something that seemed so broken.  I guess that's why I chose this spot. 

You'll see behind Ali there (far right) there's a sunset painted on the inner panel.  That's the background for the shot above.  Yoko had centered my head with the sun, asked me to put my back against the wall and 'take two steps forward'.  We had a few more shots with the Love graffiti as well as long shots on the bridge.  And yes, it was cold.  Jeeeeeesus, was it cold, but I played into it.  I wanted to feel a certain kind of physical uncomfortableness that I could channel into an intense presence.  I had my coat ready to throw on in between shots, and we didn't spend too long outside - I'll suffer for art, but I've got limits. 

But I'm just the latest model in a beautiful series of moody shots of artists making a stand against domestic abuse, a few of them friends and acquaintances.  You can visit The Black Umbrella on Tumblr and on Facebook and learn more about their anti-abuse campaign. 

Thank you again, Yoko, for having me in this campaign!

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