You have taken photos of verydifferent Tanzanians - musicians,politicians, fashion models. Who wasthe most interesting?
’ve always taken an interestin politics, and obviouslyworking with Zitto Kabwe(MP for Chadema andKigoma Kaskazini) wasinspiring as it has givenme a deeper insight intothe political life of Tanzania. Up tothen I had been looking at Tanzaniafrom either a tourist’s or from an NGO-worker’s view point, and thatobviously has certain limitations.However, it is not so much about
you are, as
you are. I like workingwith people who have ambitions, whotrust their team and leave space for creative madness.
Your photos rarely depict the glossy,tourist-attracting postcard image- neither do they depict the Westernmedia’s frequent photos of helplessAfricans. In fact a lot illustratebasic, almost boring, everydaydetails. What’s the idea?
To me digging into the daily detailshas been a way to enter Tanzanianculture and everyday life. First, Ithought I knew everything – how
difcult can it be? Gradually, I
realized I was wrong, that Tanzania isfar more complex and full of contrasts.However, to me photography is alsoabout looking for colour, texture andcomposition, not necessarily for whatyou think people want it to be. I like
the art of nding the odd beauty in
something most would ignore, to present it from another angle andattract attention. Practically, doingwhat I do, I have spent a good dealwaiting for people and plans to berealized, and in those cases it is veryconvenient to be able to kill time witha camera no matter where you are.
You often refer to the ‘kelele inKariakoo and Kisutu’ as one of yourfavorite places to take photos - whyis that?
To me photography can turn a badday into good. When I worked in the
ofce of a Danish NGO in Upanga I
went to the city centre in order to chill,and to hang on to the real world. Also,visually, Kariakoo and Kisutu are just
interesting places in Dar es Salaam.
You’ve also spent a lot of time inmany rural areas - lately in Kigoma.Some may say that rural Tanzaniais ‘undiscovered’ - ignored - whatdifference do you think you canmake with your camera in thisregard?
The majority of Tanzanians live inrural areas. Most are ignored, whichisn’t only a Tanzanian phenomenon.
I grew up in rural Denmark, and thePernille Bærendtsen is a Danish
photographer who has worked for 10+years with people who work for change.
She has lived in ex-Yugoslavia, northern
Uganda and Tanzania, where she hasengaged in campaigning, activism,communication and photography.We came across her work and wereattracted by the content as well as thevibrancy of everyday objects or people.More of her work will be featured
throughout this issue. She will also
be having a show at Alliance Francaison 21st february to March 3rd called‘Kigoma Colors’.