2018 - Ongoing
Atlanta Made Us Famous is an ongoing photo series that highlights the women that play an important role in the Atlanta hip-hop scene.
I first visited Atlanta in 2018, and the photography studio I worked at was located right across the street from Magic City, “a legendary strip club that should be familiar to anyone who knows anything about rap music.” For the past few years, I have been capturing the hip-hop scene, including a number of Atlanta-based rappers, which drew me to the world of the city’s dancers. In U.S. hip-hop culture, strip clubs like Magic City are the launch pad for hit records and superstar careers, and the dancers are a vital part of the scene.
Over the course of several weeks, I spent days and nights with my camera and lighting rig documenting the club’s dancers. I went from befriending Ms. Elaine, who has been the ‘’house mother’’ of the strippers of Magic City for 30 years, to being invited to the homes of dancers like Cleo, a mother of one. The hip-hop scene is mostly written about and photographed by men — my project offers a perspective that leaves the male gaze out completely.
Growing up Muslim in the Netherlands, I related to my subjects in many ways—we’ve both experienced double standards within ‘’women’s empowerment,’’ exclusion by the mainstream feminist movement, and having agency stripped from the narratives around our bodies in our own respective worlds. Through documenting the lives of these women and getting to know them, I learned more about how they approached their work, their sexualities, ownership over their images, and their relationships to motherhood—and above all, I hope to show that their images hold power and importance beyond hip-hop and its surrounding culture. From my perspective, it’s the dancers that shine as the stars of the city.