2017 Winners - Emmanuelle Andrianjafy
The purpose of the Aperture Portfolio Prize is to identify trends in contemporary photography and highlight artists whose work deserves greater recognition. When choosing the first-prize winner and runners-up, Aperture’s editorial and curatorial staff look for innovative bodies of work that haven’t been widely seen in major publications or exhibition venues.
For more information about the Aperture Portfolio Prize, please visit aperture.org/portfolio-prize.
When she moved to Dakar, Senegal, in 2011, Emmanuelle Andrianjafy thought everything would be fine. She grew up in Madagascar and studied in France. She assumed her familiarity with one aspect of African culture would make her transition to Dakar seamless. Instead, Andrianjafy found Dakar disorienting. Constantly viewed as an outsider, she struggled to adapt, to make sense of a city undergoing a profound transition, evident in the noise of construction projects currently altering the streetscape. Andrianjafy decided to confront Dakar with her camera and assemble a kaleidoscopic vision of the city, which became an ongoing series, Nothing’s in Vain.
At first, Andrianjafy had no visual strategy in mind. “I was focused on pushing myself to go out every day, photographing intuitively and experimenting,” she said. These experiments led to the wide range of styles in Nothing’s in Vain—plain photographs of sandy-colored buildings rising from the ground, still lifes of found objects, intimate but enigmatic portraits, aerial views. Alternating between the precise documentary approach reminiscent of South African photographer Guy Tillim and blurred, perplexing scenes that appear like clips from CCTV, Andrianjafy began to pair her images and make diptychs of startling contrast. “Because Dakar has multiple faces and energies, it didn’t bother me to mix languages, to mix landscapes,” she said. “It’s all part of the city and all part of my confusion about this place.” Although she still feels like a stranger, she nonetheless finds moments of connection with her Senegalese subjects. After two years producing images as diverse as Dakar itself, Andrianjafy has made the city her own.
About Emmanuelle Andrianjafy:
Emmanuelle Andrianjafy (b. 1983) grew up in Madagascar. She trained as an electrical engineer and worked in France before relocating to Senegal. Andrianjafy began making photographs in 2013 and attended Atelier Smedsby, an international photography workshop, from 2015 – 2017. She has since participated in several international exhibitions, including at Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles (2015), Aperture Gallery in New York (2015), and the Addis Foto Fest in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2016). Andrianjafy lives and works in Dakar.