The relationship between the city – with its varied landscapes, hidden corners, and surprising bursts of colour – and the person in the frame is captured with a keen vibrancy and attention to detail by Emmanuel Anie-Akwetey in his portrait series. Studying Politics and International Relations, it’s little wonder he is fixated by the role of the individual in relation to the urban.
Bringing forth his love for the ‘city aesthetic’ (think high buildings, trams, and wide roads) he uses his phone in lieu of a camera to take his photographs, fully making use of the impulsiveness of the city; that every turn is an opportunity for a picture.
Part of what motivates him is his work with the SLOL collective, or Some Levels of Loose Coterie. The collective, which can be found on Instagram as slolcoterie, is a group of friends who have gathered to showcase their work in a range of mediums. The list includes music, videography, photography, and DJs.
The kinds of discourses he says the collective intends on inciting, especially in relation to his images, ranges from the future of Afrocentrist art to mental health and the role of the God and the spiritual. It is a collective invested in sharing creativity, in celebrating the individual and the cosmopolitan as part of one unified composition.
Part of his role in the group is curation of the Instagram page, utilising the triptych format to feature a fellow participant and friends – his usual models of choice. In most of the images they pose next to buildings, their clothes and their expressions bringing out a vibrant palette and texture. In one image, pink neon light hits a woman’s hair forming a halo, a bright contrast to the metal door behind her. She looks at the camera with an unwavering stare. It’s a remarkable image in that there is full acknowledgement of the camera, and the artist behind it.
Emmauel Anie-Akwetey’s work is a dip in a pool of colour, a journey through the city you thought you could see.