Friday, February 20, 2015

Kia Dyson- Her Ways of Seeing

photo courtesy of Kia Dyson
When it comes to film, photography and lighting - there are too many out there who can not master the deepest subtleties involved when it comes to capturing the many tones that is us.

photo courtesy of Kia Dyson
So I'm always excited to come across a photographer whose work not only demonstrates an appreciation of how lighting can be embraced, but also utilizes it to capture the uniqueness that is us.

photo courtesy of Kia Dyson
Kia Dyson does this. Her work elevates the nuances of Diaspora - allowing colors to work with each other and burst out to the onlooker. I caught up with Kia Dyson the last time I was in New York and have continued to follow her work since. Here is an interview with this bright new, young talent.

photo courtesy of Kia Dyson

1. What made you interested in photography? Describe that moment when you "fell in love" with this discipline.

I actually got into photography randomly. My career started off as a print model and then a stylist. While working at Jazzy Studios in Baltimore, my mentor, Jeff Butler, insisted that I learn how to use the camera and shoot beside him at our sessions. From the first click, I was hooked. I left for New York a year later, purchased a camera and my career started. I knew I was in love with photography after shooting and editing my first major project on my own.

photo courtesy of Kia Dyson
2. Who are your influences? (not necessarily restricted to photographers but of course including them)

Of course, my mentor Jeff is a huge influence. He taught me how to turn a love for something into a business- a business that you can still be passionate about. When it comes to hardwork, my influences are Reuben Reuel of Demestiks New York and author Jason Reynolds. These guys work very hard at what they do and their dedication to their respective crafts are contagious. As for photography and art, I'm inspired by Delphine Diallo, Kehinde Wiley, Texas Valenzuela (King Texas), Osborne Macharia, Pierre Bennu, Titus Kaphar, Tchalê Figueira, and Raymond Saunders. It's so many more but these are the people that I am studying a lot right now.

photo courtesy of Kia Dyson

3. How do you see the function(s) of photography in society and how do you see yourself utilizing it? (what is the function for you?)

Photography is and has always been a tool for documenting. My goal is to document the lives of the amazing people I have the pleasure of calling friends and colleagues. From writers, to other photographers, designers and models- I want to be able to say I was there when they started and watched the evolution of their brand. I also want to help preserve black history by documenting black culture.

4. What do you see for yourself professionally in the future (dreams, manifestations)?

photo courtesy of Kia Dyson
In the next 3-5 years, my goal is to have a fully functional creative design firm. I'm currently studying graphic and web design and have been doing digital art collages. I plan to turn my love of photography and design into a one stop shop for businesses and other creatives who believe in amazing web presence.

photo courtesy of Kia Dyson

5. Recent moments to be stoked: 

  • Digital collage work, Realignment of the Stars, featured at See- Scope Miami
  • Digital collage work, The American Genocide featured in Winter Tangerine's Hands Up Don't Shoot online exhibition.
  • Series of photographs featuring author Jason Reynolds will be on view at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago April 6-July 12 2015-
  • Portrait of author Jason Reynolds featured on

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bandit Queen Press-Press Release

It's cold outside and I'm sitting in this fabulous house in a suburb of Copenhagen. It's quite early - I tend to wake up early - and I have just completed reading a 26 page manuscript of fantastic poetry. Bandit Queen Press is proud to announce that a new volume of poetry is in the making - stay tuned for details. I am excited by this creator's work - her voice speaks to me in a way that I have been searching for. As with all things in the universe, spiritual timing is of utmost importance - and the timing of this is all so fortuitous.
This writer (whose name I shall not reveal until later) has a solid body of work. The range of her experiences and insight are exactly what we can use in this world right now- assisting us in the never-ending process of expanding our perspectives/consciousness. She represents everything that Bandit Queen Press stands for and that is empowered women heal the world. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

When Terrorism has a White Face

“There is a reason why the Norwegian police have not been overly concerned with rightwing extremism in recent years. It is plainly not very visible. An estimated 40 Norwegians currently belong to self-proclaimed extreme rightwing groups.
However, anyone familiar with the darker waters of the blogosphere would for years have been aware of the existence of a vibrant cyber scene characterized by unmitigated hatred of the new Europe, aggressive denunciations of the "corrupted, multiculturalist power elites" and pejorative generalizations about immigrants, targeting Muslims in particular …
The fact that Breivik was Made in Norway, a homegrown terrorist with a hairdo and an appearance suggesting the west end of Oslo, and not a bearded foreign import, should lead not only to a closer examination of these networks, but also to a calm, but critical reflection over the Norwegian self-identity itself.”-- Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Comment is Free.

On the same day Amy Winehouse is reported dead, a massive bomb blasts outside a government office building in downtown Oslo. A few hours later, the man responsible for this bombing disguises himself as a police officer and opens fire at a camp where the youth wing of the ruling Labor Party held a gathering.  With 93 people dead, it is the worse peacetime massacre in Norway’s modern history.
The man who claims responsibility for these two acts is a 32 year-old Norwegian, said he killed 93 to spark a “revolution” against the multiculturalism he believes is sapping Europe’s heritage.  This is within the same year that the British Prime Minister David Cameron, Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel and France's Prime Minister Ncolas Sarkozy had all declared that, “multiculturalism has failed.”
Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of these attacks in Norway, wrote a 1,500 page manifesto. In this manifesto, he managed to mention that Denmark was one of the only two countries in Europe that had a satisfactory immigration policy. In his own writings, the alleged Norwegian bomber appears to have complained about the "Muslim ghettoization process'" in Oslo -- a term also used by the far right in Denmark.
Denmark was once seen as an open country. Copenhagen, being the largest harbor in the region, was like most other harbors in the world during its heyday: it was the place where differences convened.  But something started happening here.
Denmark always relied on immigration to fulfill an employment gap its countrymen were too educated and qualified to fill. In the early days, their doors were open to Turkish workers, who gladly did what no Dane would dare to do: pick the food that would later be served on their dinner plates.
One of the reasons I had no problem moving to Denmark was because of its reputation for being a socialized state.  I didn’t mind paying high taxes if it meant I could go see a doctor. I also loved the fact that university was free and accessible, I thought, for all--and to be honest, Copenhagen is just, well, beautiful.
Copenhagen is a small city, of around 1.7 million inhabitants. Almost a half of its population commute by bicycle and it’s clean. One of the first things I noticed about Copenhagen when I arrived here was how orderly everything seemed to be: and well designed. I never knew government buildings to have Poul Henningsen lamps.  It’s relatively safe and the busses usually arrive on time.
If the weather’s good, Copenhagen in the summer time is magical. The gray from the winter lifts and people shake their zombie like daze and become animated, alive, smile even.  During the summer here in Copenhagen, its citizens take back the streets replacing the winter emptiness with leisurely walks and sidewalk hang-outs. But the weather need not be good here for its inhabitants to leave the house. There’s an old Danish saying that there is no such things as bad weather, just bad clothing. So even in the rain, you witness whole families taking park strolls to få noget frisk luft[1]
Copenhagen is, in many regards, the quintessential middle class dream. Where the ugly head of poverty is hidden behind quaint little buildings that are humble enough not to compete with the sky.
Another interesting fact about Copenhagen is that it is considered the site for the first ever terror attack in Europe. No, it wasn’t the Muslims, as many would probably think, it was the British.[2]
But Copenhagen’s easy-going and open façade begins to crack. My arrival coincided with the rise of the Danish People’s Party whose motto is, “Your country, Your Choice.” Sounds innocent enough until you realize their anti-immigration policy.  The problem is, the Danish People’s Party also talks about things that other politicians aren’t taking up, like the rights of the elderly and even animal rights. They also put voice to a lot fears that many Danes have, but will not openly admit.  The Danish People’s party is now  Denmark’s largest political party. This is from their website:                
·     1.  The country is founded on the Danish cultural heritage and therefore, Danish culture must be preserved and strengthened
2.  Denmark is not an immigrant-country and never has been. Thus we will not accept transformation to a multiethnic society
I could understand why Danes would want to protect their country: it’s pretty good living.  I’ve mentioned all the perks before, but what really enrages me on the whole about this immigration issue in Europe in general is the lack of understanding that European wealth was built on the exploiting what is commonly termed, in their newspapers, as developing countries- and if its wealth has been so built – how can you refuse the natural flow of that mathematic equation which inevitably brings workers back to your shores? Europe’s failure in connecting the cause and effect of its global and financial practices are suspect, at best.  
A few years ago Sweden suffered a crashing defeat. My friend and I took a road trip from Copenhagen to Sweden. Although the countries are neighbors, the landscape is very different. Where Denmark is flat like a pancake, Sweden has rolling hills, gurgling springs and forests that speak from centuries past. We were borrowing a house of his friends in this southern Swedish town called Bromøller[3].  Since 2000, the Øresund Bridge has made it easy to drive or take the train from Copenhagen to Sweden. Before, if you wanted to get to southern Sweden, you would have to take a ferry.
Anyway, we wanted to get out of the city, get on the road and see some nature.  The house was spectacular: a simple two-story Swedish style summer house with a sauna and meditation room. The house was on a lake.
Although Sweden and Denmark are so close, you also get the satisfactory feeling of being in another country. Sweden is huge compared to Denmark, and you can feel that size in the layout of the roads, the expanse of land that surrounds you and you hear it when they speak. Nothing soothes my contentious soul than to hear foreign languages. It is as if the words spoken, say to my heart, “hush hush now, you are someplace different.” We ended up exploring the town, doing some grocery shopping and getting a general vibe of the town.  Although I’ve traveled a lot, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to exclusively white vicinities.  But I brushed my discomfort aside, focused on my friend and experienced being high on the simple fact that hey, we were out of Denmark.
I did feel all eyes on me, but didn’t speak it to my friend. I learned a long time ago that it was better not to put words into those sensations, not to feed into it. In the end we fell in love with this little Swedish hide-out and dreamt about creating a space much like it, where we could be away from the city, close to nature and be able to create. 
It did come up though, that conversation about standing out.  My friend, admitted he felt it too. I also did notice that once when we were in town, a political party called the Swedish Democrats seemed to be holding a gathering just right outside the coffee shop we drank our lattes and cortados. But all the individuals we met up with were nice.  We both figured that we could definitely spend some more time there. When we returned to Copenhagen we bumped into some mutual friends who had a Swedish friend in tow. We told her that we had recently just been to Sweden, and that we had been to Bromøller. “That’s funny,” she said, “because today, for the first time ever, the Swedish right has been voted into Parliament. And Bromøller, was one of the largest municipalities to vote them in.”
These are the things I contemplate while raising my child here. These are the things I contemplated as a teacher in a multicultural school. I wonder, why are people so scared? Why the hate? And then I think about Albert Einstein who once wrote, “Our separation from each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” And I know that this is the message I must spread.

[1] get some fresh air. 
[2] The Second Battle of Copenhagen (or the Bombardment of Copenhagen) (16 August – 5 September 1807) was from a British point of view a preemptive attack on Copenhagen, targeting the civilian population in order to seize the Dano-Norwegian fleet.[17][19][22][23] But from a Danish point of view the battle was a terror bombardment on their capital. Particularly notable was the use of incendiary Congreve rockets (containing phosphorus, which cannot be extinguished with water) that randomly hit the city. Few houses with straw roofs remained after the bombardment. The largest church, Vor frue kirke, was destroyed by the sea artillery. The battle is considered the first terror attack against a major European city in modern times by several historians.[23][24] The confiscation of the navy, would later source the term to Copenhagenize.
[3] The name means “Bridge Mill” 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Egypt Rising

barcelona 2013 (photo idalistic)

(for Motrack)

I see Egypt
In your Eyes
All the way
From Europe.

The ancients
Rise up.

I see Egypt
In your walk,
Not neglected-

How you talk
Your thoughts
Jumping buildings
How you talk

The Phoenix
Older than
Time. Invented.

I see Egypt
In your eyes
Clarity & Union
Sun Dies

(the 60s telephone
in the Barcelona
topaz tiled toilet rings)

“hola. No hablo

& Egypt
of course.

No surprises, 
In his very

Barcelona July 2013.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Step 1

I hear the gentle roll of the train outside my new window. 
I did it.  I moved. 
And I feel so much better. 
I hated that place. 
It's interesting how difficult it is for me to express it. 
I hated that apartment. 
The memories. 
The experiences. 
The Sadness. 
The death. 

Thank you Universe for getting me out of there alive. 

From Palestine to Blaagardsplads

that's me directing back in my teaching daze

when i first started teaching many moons ago - i was immediately blown away by the kids that i met. if i only had to deal with them: i'd still be teaching. today i 

found something written by one of my former students.  he's a young adult now but at the time he must have been in the 6th or 7th grade. when you read this, you will get an idea of how similar the experiences are between immigrants here in denmark and people of color in the u.s. 

From Palestine to Blågårdsplads
I’m a Palestinian boy living in Denmark, in a tough neighborhood called Blågårdsplads. People who live in my neighborhood are people with minority background, like me. Many of the young boys in my neighborhood use most of their time on the streets, hanging out in groups and trying to find ways to make easy money. Now I’m wondering about, is it their own fault that they have chosen to take this path, or is it societies fault? When I talk about society, I’m not only talking about school life or the neighborhood. The government plays a big role when it comes to problems with people with minority background, especially the police and the media.

Three days ago I was hanging out with some friends; we were taking a walk in our neighborhood. When suddenly we were surrounded by the police, they took out the dogs so nobody could run away, as if we even thought about doing that. We were pushed up against the wall in a line, and then they started taking one person after the other to go through our pockets and see if we had something illegal on us. They took our names then said that we weren’t the ones they were looking for. These things have happened so many times, that it’s getting normal to get treated like that. Now how can boys with minority background not get filled up with hate, when they are constantly looked down at by the police and also some of the Danish people? Most of the newspapers make it even worse by describing them as people with minority background, and now they use a word that doesn’t even make sense to describe children of parents with minority background. In some of the Danish newspapers, they would call the children as second generation of immigrants and third generation of immigrants etc. Even if they are born here in Denmark and have Danish citizenship they are still not seen as Danish, so how do you want the children to see themselves as Danish.


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