Not many modern day artists are naturally-born artists like those who have always been haunted by that 3rd eye that forces them to see the world in a way most mere mortals are blind to. These rare breeds are forced to see the world as it truthfully is, as well as imagine how it could possibly be, and somewhere in between this awakening, they create art which relates their visions to the rest of the world. Saddi Khali is one such artistic gem.
World-renowned photo-therapist/poet/theatre practitioner/all-round artist extraordinaire Saddi Khali is finally coming to South Africa! He will be in Johannesburg and Cape Town from 15 March to 4 April and will return in September to exhibit his South African tour. Now if you have ever seen a Saddi Khali photograph, you would most probably share my sentiments when I say: EVERYONE wants to be looked at the way that Saddi Khali photographs people! He’s not joking when he says: your belly, your stretch marks, your jiggle & your dimples, what happens to your bosoms over time, your surgery scars AND your side meat are all beautiful to me. Bring them to me & let me show you the art in them.
I had the honour (and pleasure) of doing an online interview with Saddi Khali last week and was pleasantly surprised to meet a sincere and spiritual young artist who truly believes that we are created in our Creator’s image and need to start seeing ourselves as such. In the front note of Pieces of Peace (a collection of photographs available on his Facebook page as well as his website www.saddikhaliphoto.com) Khali, very beautifully, says:
People need to see images of ourselves with humanity. Women as beautiful regardless of size, shape or complexion. Men as strong, sensitive and loving. Parents and children: caring and happy. Couples in love: in warm intimate moments. Us as lovers: sensual and sexy but not nasty, even when we are nasty. This is not to say that other folks don’t need to see themselves in certain ways, but, I don’t know those ways. I DO know how my folks are being fooled by and misrepresented in arts & media. I DO know how we’ve been riddled with shame and guilt when we love ourselves, and I DO know how internalized racial oppression is affecting us. So all the work I do is in the intention of combating that.
Let’s see ourselves beautiful, again!
Khali says that he was taught that art should never be for art’s sake. That it should have practical and everyday purpose so he uses his to speak directly to people: to uphold the good things he has learnt and to improve the things that don’t work. “People are accustomed to accepting what they are force-fed. That’s why it’s up to us to change what we accept.” And that is exactly what his work does, it changes our proverbial diet so that we can begin to consume the beauty that we are.
Having understood this about Khali’s outlook, I was able to see why the people in his photographs always look so comfortable. His photos look more like he has captured beautiful snippets of people’s lives rather than an actual photo shoot, and he attributes this to his understanding of a basic truth: “I think folks really wanna be known, understood, appreciated. Folks just wanna be loved, really”. So with a camera and some natural light, that’s exactly what Saddi Khali does. He walks with people to a place of love where they can see themselves with humanity and he captures that. It helps that the photo shoot takes place wherever you (the client) wants it to take place, and there is no obligation to be nude or even to have your pictures be made public (on his site or via Facebook).
When I asked him where and how the photo shoots would take place, Khali said: “I don’t own a studio. I shoot wherever there is a window. The client and I have a pre-shoot conversation, and then we get together, in their home, my hotel… any place we have available. Then we go through the breaking down of the walls and habits that we employ to protect ourselves from judgement. The work of setting ourselves free. And I photograph the process. You get the images before you leave and then we’re like friends forever!” No Photoshop, no touch ups… just YOU. This sounds exciting and daunting all at the same time, but as his works always proves, definitely worth it.
Whilst chatting to Khali, I asked him if carrying all these people’s spirits ever weighs heavily on him, because even therapists need therapy to help them deal with everyone’s problems. To cleanse himself, he gets acupuncture, massages and a variety of spiritual work. What was interesting though was that I got a strong sense that all of this is a part of his routine life and is not necessarily a way to “deal” with his work. I didn’t get a feeling that this is work for him, or that he can even separate himself from it. And that made me respect this artists all the more because here is a man, who is giving himself to us so that we can see ourselves with humanity.
Be sure to book a shoot with Saddi Khali in Johannesburg and Cape Town between 15 March and 4 April.
To make an appointment or to get more information contact:
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