@FilmAbdi’s work explores what it means to connect freely with oneself and others.
Like many, he started pretty casually. He documented the mundane and the special – hanging out with his friends or taking photos at their weddings. Yet Abdi described how he took a four-year break due to a lack of identity within his work, and unless he found his philosophy, he had no plans to return.
Summer of 2022, things began to look upward: it was the first summer after COVID-19 without any restrictions. People were out, carnival was back, and day parties went far into the night. Abdi’s idea for his first series came from this freedom: ‘Summer is ours.’
He explained how this series was a form of documentation, “a way to immortalize the joys and experiences” post-lockdown. As a history graduate, he wanted to capture historical moments people would like to reflect on. And he captures myriad moments ranging from strangers dancing together to people feeling themselves. He said in the summer, “you feel like anything is possible, ” and he wanted the pictures to reflect that.
After the summer series came ‘Love in London,’ a sequel to the former. Abdi wanted this series to “pay homage to the nuanced expressions of love in London,” ranging from love within sisterhoods, brotherhoods, romantic love, and fleeting loves. Ultimately, he wanted to show that love in London – subtle or grandiose – was valid in all its forms.
And he does not shy away from rich colors and lights: flirting with rich colors like heavy blues, oranges, and greens. In several of his photos, he captures a couple against blue light to play on the contrast between warmth and cold, playing with the juxtaposition. Abdi noted how he draws inspiration from Barry Jenkins ‘Moonlight’ but finds ideas beyond the Western world. Senegalese movies were at the top of his list as he admired their use of composition and color.
It does not take long to notice that at the heart of Abdi’s work is an exploration of love. So much so that his tagline across social media is ‘Film Abdi is for the lovers.’ He expanded on this cryptic statement: ultimately, his work is for people who romanticize their lives. The people who look at his job – or work alike – feel something. “They are all lovers,” he remarked.
He particularly shone a light on black love. Abdi was motivated to disrupt the narratives of ‘struggle love’ that have long lingered within the black community: “Black love is rooted in struggle and it devalued.” He sets out to capture the humanity and beauty within black love: joy and romance are not mutually exclusive for us.
So what is next for Abdi: he spoke warmly about his desire to create a community of like-minded people. People who see the value in society, relationships, and romance ultimately want to celebrate that. Alongside that was his plan to expand the ‘Love in London’ series and look at how the experiences of love change with context. He spoke about a potential “Love in Lagos” series or other countries such as Brazil and South Africa – the goal was to pay homage to what love looks like worldwide.
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