In these socially and politically divisive times, the need for creatives to offer new visions of the world is more urgent than ever. Work that unites us, deepens our understanding of each other and acts as a counterpoint to hateful narratives is critical for our evolution. Photographers are in a unique position to bear witness to the events of our time and create work that renders the invisible, visible. This new wave of visual activism is driven by image makers like Amaal Said, Nadine Ijewere and Campbell Addy. Through their work they are reshaping the conventions of representation. Fiercely defiant towards cultural stereotypes, they address race and gender politics in dynamic new ways.
Campbell Addy is an entrepreneur at his core. A year has barely passed since he graduated and he has already built a network of creative outlets which unite his mission to increase diversity in the creative industry. For Campbell, diversity goes beyond pigment and embraces all that makes an individual unique. “I’m not interested in feeding the system by perpetuating stereotypes and clichéd characters.”
In 2016 he founded Nii Agency and Nii Journal. The casting and model agency delivers diversity to the industry, challenging the status quo and tearing down conventional beauty standards. Nii Journal, an independent magazine and publishing platform, explores a combination of culture, issues and activism through the lens of empowerment within race. In addition, Campbell is an emerging fashion and art photographer who has produced work for Dazed, Dr Martens, Selfridges and Vogue Italia.
Campbell’s pathway to photography was a masterclass of discovery. Although he has always been making images, he trained as a stylist, studying Fashion Communication at Central St Martins where he immersed himself in the D.I.Y culture. While there he assisted Jamie Morgan for technical mentorship. His time with Jamie was transformative, he gained valuable knowledge of the production and business side of the industry. Jamie also introduced him to Buffalo, the disruptive and radical movement of the 80’s which transformed the way society absorbed fashion. He finished up with an internship at ShowStudio, where he discovered the importance of collaboration and quickly realized he wanted to start his own creative collective.
With a distinctive aesthetic and autobiographical approach, Campbell’s work continues to go from strength to strength.
He kicked off 2017 with his debut solo show, Matthew 7:7& 8 at the KK Outlet. An exhibition in two parts, the first explores the complicated intersection of his sexuality and his religious upbringing while the latter, ‘Unlocking Seoul’ is a visceral exploration of the LGBT scene in South Korea in collaboration with Edvinas Bruzas.
This intense period of self-discovery and hard graft has built a disruptive and powerful practice. His work underscores how photography has shaped race while creating a new narrative that puts the human experience at its core. Despite his long list of accomplishments, it’s clear Campbell Addy’s empire has just begun.