Welcome to this sixth episode of the new Dior Talks series ‘The Female Gaze’. With the term developed in response to the writings of feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, this podcast series will explore how the work of the female photographers and creatives collaborating with Dior offers a radically new and progressive image of women.
In this episode, series host Charlotte Jansen, a British journalist and author, speaks with Sarah Waiswa about her life and career. Waiswa is a documentary and portrait photographer who has dedicated her practice to the study and portrayal of the people of her home continent, in all their extraordinary variety. She takes a very contemporary approach to examining social issues, avoiding trap of the clichés, and views herself as a visual poet and storyteller.
Sarah Waiswa was born in Uganda during the time of the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin, with her family forced to flee shortly afterwards. She grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, where she lives and works to this day. A self-taught photographer, having originally studied psychology and sociology in the US, it was her fascination with social topics in Kenya and the wider region which led her to take up the camera. She has photographed many subjects in many countries, and in 2016 won the prestigious Rencontres d’Arles Discovery Award for her moving and incisive project on the persecution of albinos in sub-Saharan Africa. Waiswa documents what she calls a ‘new African identity’ and is much focused on how the continent and its inhabitants portray themselves and are portrayed by the rest of the world.
In this week’s episode, Jansen and Waiswa discuss the strains of lockdown, motherhood and her unlikely route to photography. They also discuss how the camera was a tool of colonialism almost as deadly as the gun, and how images have been used to both dominate and demean African nations and peoples. Creative Director of Women’s collections Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by Waiswa’s journey as a female African photographer and invited her, along with five other women photographers from the continent, to collaborate on shooting the cruise 2020 collection.