Lit List 2020 photographers Isabel Okoro, Justin J Wee, Nolwen Cifuentes, Carmen Daneshmandi, and Samantha Cabrera Friend will show work and discuss their experiences within the visual media industry.
“Over the last year, I’ve been thinking more deeply about the universe I am creating through my photography: who are the characters, how do they move through the world, what do they care about, what does it feel like to belong here? I love exploring the nuance of personhood, whether it’s through queerness, ethnicity, masculinity, or just the friction of everyday life.” — Justin J Wee
“I believe in the power of controlling our own narratives, and I like to see when stories are commissioned to people who are prominent in the communities being documented, or can at least have an honest relation and interaction with the subjects.” — Isabel Okoro
Please make sure to also check out corresponding exhibition The Lit List 2020: Photographers to Watch, Exhibit & Hire.
Featuring: Isabel Okoro, Justin J Wee, Nolwen Cifuentes, Carmen Daneshmandi, Samantha Cabrera Friend
Isabel Okoro (b. 2001, Lagos, NG) is a photographer & budding director based between Toronto, ON and Lagos, NG. Her work focuses on the Black youth experience and exploring the interactions between the motherland and the diaspora. Inspired by artists like Solange Knowles, Mowalola & Wong Kar-Wai, Isabel decided early on in her practice that she was going to create her own visual universe as a space to immortalize the people she loves & the people who look like her.
Today, that space is called Eternity.
Carmen Daneshmandi is a first generation Spanish-Iranian photographer, videographer & visual artist currently based between Barcelona and New York. Her work often calls upon her own lineage and selfhood to inform her creative practice, disrupting traditional approaches in image making with a keen and powerful sensibility of color, playfulness, juxtaposition, and mixed media narratives. Driven by that texture of identity and culture, her work carefully balances the crosshairs of fine art, portraiture, fashion, and reportage. It is through these visual signifiers that she creates a poetic and cathartic space from which to infuse her subjects with the collaborative possibility of their own empowerment, blossoming visual capital, and self-preservation with fantasy.
Justin J Wee
Justin J Wee is a Malaysian-born Australian photographer and community chef now based in Brooklyn. His clients include The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Businessweek, VICE and NPR. Much of Justin’s work seeks to create reflections of the world that he wishes his closeted teenage self got to see in the media – a world where queerness doesn’t look homogenous, a world where people of colour don’t have to trade in parts of their ethnicity in order to thrive.
In 2020, Justin was named one of Authority Collective’s ‘Lit List’, a group of image makers to ‘watch, hire, and exhibit’, and in 2019 was featured by the BBC for his project ‘How I Hurt’, a still life series documenting chronic pain. In addition to his visual practice, Justin is a community chef for two not-for-profit community collectives, Nomadique and Communion. He is a Libra.
Samantha Cabrera Friend
Samantha Cabrera Friend is a visual artist from Chicago who uses photography, writing, public research and journalism to explore local histories, traditions, and sociopolitical issues affecting female-based communities on a global scale. She is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and is the founder and curator of Quinceañera Archives—a visual repository which fosters online dialogues and community-driven research, around the historical importance of one’s cultural lived experience.
With a methodology based in historical research, ethnographic studies, and large format photography, Samantha makes work to challenge the defining process and resulting phenomena behind modern western value in journalistic, academic, and fine art spheres today.
Nolwen is a first generation Colombian-French photographer and director, born and raised in the desert of Southern California. She now resides and works in Los Angeles. As a mixed race queer woman, her identity plays an active role in the type of narratives she is drawn to. Her interests lie in shifting social consciousness, breaking down gender norms, and representation. Exploring portraiture within the landscape of American culture, Nolwen’s photographs deal with vulnerability and gaze between both subject and viewer. Nolwen approaches each portrait with openness and curiosity. Her images are a collaboration between herself and the person she’s photographing. Leaning in to the energy of her subjects, Nolwen evokes a sense of authenticity and compassion to whoever sits in front of her lens.
ABOUT THE PARTNER
The Authority Collective is a group of womxn, non-binary, and gender expansive people of color reclaiming our authority in lens-based visual media. As professionals in the photography, film, and VR/AR industries, our mission is to empower artists with resources and community, and to take action against systemic and individual abuses in the world of lens-based visual work. Our goal is to remove barriers to access for BIPOC entering editorial, journalism, documentary, commercial, and fine art careers.
The Authority Collective connects our community members with job, mentorship, networking, and professional development resources. We aim to shift the power dynamic in traditional and independent media, so that the stories we tell more accurately represent the diversity of our world. We are establishing our power to set standards that challenge colonial narratives and notions of success.
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