TJ Boulting is delighted to present the first solo exhibition of Hajar Benjida, the winner of this year's British Journal of Photography International Photography Award. Atlanta Made Us Famous is an ongoing photo series that highlights the women that play an important role in the Atlanta hip-hop scene.
I first visited Atlanta in 2018, and the photography studio I interned at was located right across the street from Magic City, a legendary strip club that should be familiar to anyone who knows anything about rap music. For the past few years, I have been capturing the hip-hop scene, including a number of Atlanta-based rappers, which drew me to the world of the city's dancers. In U.S. hip-hop culture, strip clubs like Magic City are the launch pad for hit records and superstar careers, and the dancers are a vital part of the scene. Over the course of several weeks, I spent days and nights with my camera documenting the club's dancers. I went from befriending Ms. Elaine, who has been the 'house mother' of the strippers of Magic City for 30 years, to being invited to the homes of dancers like Cleo, a mother of one. The hip-hop scene is mostly written about and photographed by men - my work offers a perspective that leaves the male gaze out completely. Through documenting the lives of these women and getting to know them, I learned more about how they approached their work, ownership over their images, having agency stripped from the narratives around their bodies in their own respective worlds, and their relationships to motherhood - and above all, I hope to show that their images hold power and importance beyond hip-hop and its surrounding culture. From my perspective, it's the dancers that shine as the stars of the city.
Hajar Benjida (b. 1995) is a Moroccan-Dutch photographer and visual artist currently based in New York. She graduated from HKU University of the Arts Utrecht in 2019 with a BA in photography. In her personal work, Benjida has a documentary and intimate approach, from photographing some of today's biggest names in hip-hop to capturing the strip club scene in Atlanta and its impact on the music industry and narratives around women and the agency of their bodies. Atlanta Made Us Famous was selected by Unseen as one of nine outstanding graduation projects of 2019, and is currently part of Foam Talent 2021. This is her first UK solo exhibition.
Initiated in 2005, the British Journal of Photography International Photography Award (BJP IPA) is an annual prize that recognises outstanding projects in contemporary photography through a solo exhibition. It has been hosted by TJ Boulting since 2015. Previous winners include Dominic Hawgood, Juno Calypso, Daniel Castro Garcia, Jack Latham and Emeric Lhuisset.