Exposure: Rahim Fortune

Art director Gem Fletcher talks to photographer Rahim Fortune about his new book, I can’t stand to see you cry, and his explorations of family and the past during the pandemic

For Rahim Fortune, the photobook is a site for intimate encounters. For unravelling the aspects of life we hold most sacred and for containing complex and often conflicting emotions that ruminate deep within.

In Oklahoma, a project divided between two self-published volumes, the photographer revisits the Chickasaw Nations, where his family’s lineage goes back generations. Treading the path of insider/outsider, he describes the small daily nuances of life in rural Oklahoma.

Landscapes and relationships are marked by the passage of time, at once familiar and distant. Fortune frames the trees he climbed as a child and details in his grandmother’s home. He unpicks feelings of absence, remembrance and memory while reclaiming agency over his life story. “The camera was a buffer between myself and the reckoning of visiting my mother’s resting place, who passed away a decade earlier,” Fortune shares. “I wanted to have proof of a world that no one really knew about. Even within my family, no one goes to Oklahoma. I’m interested in preserving and connecting to that history.”

For T magazine
For i-D magazine

The last year has been challenging for the photographer who splits his time between Austin and New York. A long list of career milestones collided with profound personal tragedy, compacted further by the pressure of a global pandemic and an urgent social justice movement.