An ordinary strangeness

PhotographerGilles Nicolet
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

The Swahili Coast is a fabled land. The echoes of its rich and unusual past are heard even today. It is land of unusual amalgams: in its people, a mix of Bantu, India and Arabia; in its history, inscribed tales of ivory, frankincense, slaves; in its nature, a horizon of solitary wilderness meeting dramatic skies; in its culture, characterised by the wisdom of acceptance. In my long walks along this unique coast I have come across junctures in time which beg a second glance to reveal the bizarre and the striking. I found conversations in the sky and earth, with masked women and young men curious of what lies beyond their shores. I experienced moments of the unexpected - nostalgia in the birth of something new and vitality even in a dreamy languor. Moments which almost passed me, disguised… under the veil of an ordinary strangeness.

About Photographer

I am a self-taught photographer who has been living and working in Africa for many years now. I always had a special interest in anthropology and ethnography, something that I hope helps me capture the essence of my subjects. In the past most of my stories where about rare traditions that somehow linked man and wildlife, but Africa has changed a lot in the last few decades and unfortunately most of these traditions have now disappeared. My recent work has therefore been more personal and contemplative and less focused on narrative picture stories aimed at magazines. I have also moved away from color photography and now only shoot in black and white. I am presently working on a book on the Swahili Coast - a unique physical, historical and cultural entity that runs from Southern Somalia all the way to Mozambique. This current work is but the first leg of a photographic journey where I will be looking at the fate of disadvantaged fishing communities the world over.