2017 Portfolio Prize Runner Up: Emmanuelle Andrianjafy

Read a statement by Brendan Embser, Managing Editor, Aperture magazine

Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Untitled, 2016; from the series Nothing's In Vain

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.

Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Untitled, 2016
Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Untitled, 2016
Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Untitled, 2014/2016
Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Untitled, 2016
Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Untitled, 2015
All photographs from the series Nothing’s In Vain. Courtesy the artist.

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.