Poignant Portfolio no. 7: Alanna Airitam
The Golden Age
by Alanna Airitam
The Golden Age is a tribute to black people. I got tired of living under the constant negative narratives and stereotypes assigned to black people and black culture and wanted to reclaim our majesty with work that showed the truth. And that truth is we are beautiful, we are powerful, and we belong. I created this body of work as a form of healing for myself. We are witnesses to the constant abuse of black lives. I decided to use my voice to change the messaging we receive about being black. If the media insists on depicting black people as ugly, I will show you beauty. If the government insists on a narrative that we don’t belong, I will show you how we have built this country from the ground up. If the arts cannot find room for our voices, I will build a stage and give the microphone to as many underrepresented voices that I can. We live in an increasingly volatile world. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I’ve decided to use the rest of my life being a part of the solution in whatever way I can. And if The Golden Age has inspired or given hope to someone, then I feel I have lived a purposeful life.
New York born, Alanna Airitam is a self-taught fine art photographer who creates portraits that help shift stagnant (and often negative) narratives about communities of color and other misrepresented and/or underrepresented people. Using photography as her delivery system, she offers the audience a look into a reality that is not based upon the limiting constraints of narrow media messaging about people of color but instead offers a glimpse into her belief about the necessity and beauty of diversity in culture. Airitam has recently participated in the San Diego Art Institute exhibition titled ABOUT-FACE. She was the subject of a short film titled “Haarlem to Harlem” about her portrait series, The Golden Age and has been featured in numerous publications, podcasts, and speaking events centered around the subject of representation of people of color, stereotypes, and questioning the validity of racial traditions.
From the Editor
I was introduced to Airitam's work when she was recently a guest on the Keep the Channel Open podcast this past May. I was delighted to hear about her process and purpose of the series. Airitam mentions in the interview that the work was sort of an "emotional vomit" in reaction to current social injustices. The context and implications of the work create a dichotomy... considering these beautiful images are a reaction to a topic that encapsulates so much pain and hatred. I encourage you to set aside some time to listen to the interview below and congratulations to Alanna for creating such a tremendously powerful series.
From podcaster Mike Sakasegawa: "This week I'm talking with San Diego photographer Alanna Airitam. Alanna's work was recently profiled in a short documentary by The Artist Odyssey. In her portrait series "The Golden Age," she photographs African Americans in the style of Dutch Renaissance paintings. We talked about that series in our conversation, and why representation in the arts and media is so important for communities of color. The for the second segment, we talked about the roots of social injustice."