Alexia Webster was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. After graduating from Wits University and completing the Intermediate Photography course at the Market Photo Workshop, Alexia workedin the film industry on music videos and TV series. Having always believed photography to be a powerful tool through which one can explore and agitate, in 2004 she left the the world of moving images and began working as a freelance photographer for numerous magazines and newspapers including The Guardian, the New York Times and the Sunday Telegraph. She has travelled widely through South Africa and the African continent on assignments since. In 2007, Alexia received a scholarship at the International Center of Photography in New York. She is currently based in Johannesburg where she continues to explore both the visible and the invisible with her camera.
Artraker / Winner, 2013
CONFLICT AREA / COUNTRY OF REFERENCE: REFUGEES IN AFRICA
The images human beings seem to treasure the most are of ourselves, our loved ones and our ancestors. Whether in war or security, poverty or wealth, a family photograph is a precious object. It affirms our identity and worth, and our place in humanity.
Having worked as a photojournalist for almost ten years, I grew tired of so often taking photos but so rarely giving them. In an effort to change this, I conceived of the Street Studios.
The Street Studios are formal outdoor photo studios – with props like a chair, a vase of flowers, a carpet, a coffee table – set up in central public locations where anyone may have their family, individual or group portraits taken. The photo is produced on site for free with a portable photo printer, so the participant/s can take it home with them for their family album.
Since March 2011, I have created five Street Studios in South Africa, from Blikkiesdorp, a barren temporary housing project outside Cape Town to Johannesburg's bustling city center. Each studio, unique in its design and participants, has been a great success, with hundreds of residents lining up to have their image taken.
However, having photographed in a number of refugee camps across the African continent, I believe that it is in these places that my project would have most meaning. Being spaces of uncertainty and transience, the family object is even more powerful and helps support a sense of identity and belonging where it is needed most.
Installation, dimension variable, Blikkiesdorp, 2011
*click on image to see full size
© Artraker CIC 2014