The visual artist we meet today has a striking talent that counts among the pioneers and activists in the urban community. From "Dakar Emoi" to the Myriam Gallery, his captivating photography about Senegalese daily life and social issue is internationally acclaimed. Let's discover him.
Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, AfroXel followers. My name is Djibril Drame. I am a Senegalese visual artist, filmmaker and curator based in Los Angeles. I was a bachelor in Journalism, Communication and Public Relations in Dakar and a certification for Arts Curatorial from International Curators Independent an organisation based in New York.
Where does your passion for photography come from?
At the age of 15, I started hanging out and making murals with my cousin Deep, who is one of the first graffiti artists in Senegal. Some years later, since the graffiti scene in Senegal was growing up, I was like: " Wait a minute, something is happening here". From that point, I took my camera to start documenting the scene.
So the passion is from the love I have for humans, for architecture, for documentation, for communication...
Are there some people who shaped this passion? Who are they?
My cousin Deep for sure, Senegalese photographer Mamadou Gomis helped me to into some projects in Senegal at my debuts, Susan Loher, German journalist from Arte, Fatou Kande Senghor... and many people.
How do you describe your genre of photography?
Since my background is graffiti, people might describe it as a street photography. But for myself, I don't like to be in a box, so I will describe my photography as an art full of humanity and divinity.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from my spirituality, from my personal relationship with God.
What prevails in the choice of topics you decide to address?
First of all, my choices are personal, then I try to conceptualise it in a way that everybody will feel himself in it.
But concept prevails always before putting it in a format.
Tell us a little bit about your portfolio, your greatest successes, and maybe failures?
Before moving to the US, I have been working for big companies like Orange, Tigo, Forbes Africa...
I also worked in the Government in Senegal as an assistant in communication. My portfolio is diverse with portraits, street photography, concept visuals...
One of my biggest successes is Dakar Emoi book, My Colorful City project for being exposed in Germany in 2012, in Dakar in 2014 and in Ivory Coast 2015. In December 2016, I represented my country at the 4th edition of Addis Foto Festival with my photo series called "The Ndewendeul".
Was also glad to be chosen by the College of Architecture of Dakar to be the God Father of their annual show.
About failures, I never loose, I just learn continuously.
Is it easy being an artist in your country or your environment?
Being an artist is tough all over the world, but I do believe that it's harder to have that lifestyle in Africa. Even though Senegal is an artistic country, well know with the Biennale of Dakar, the Fesman, President Senghor...Living as an artist is still tough because there is no system to rewards the work of the artists.
Your works have been featured in many exhibitions on the continent and abroad. What have you gained from these expositions?
Exhibitions bring credibility, brings contacts, brings experience, brings travels, brings money...
What motivates you as a photographer and what is your final objective in the art?
When I first got into the photography world, my main motivation was to show the real face of Africa. And that's the main goal that I keep doing.
What would you say to young photographers looking up to you?
Keep pushing and do it as a passion. If you do it for money you are going to be disappointed