HER LIFE IS HER ART
Photos Marissa Kaiser | Words Tamara Rappa
Delphine Diallo is a force. The Brooklyn based French and Senegalese visual artist and photographer's work ranges from signature collages and portraiture, to still life work and work that is commercial and editorial. With her profound understanding and passion for world culture and pop culture, she is the young modern female artist for our time, and one to watch. Diallo provokes a conversation about the norms of society through her powerful visuals, visuals that particularly resonate in our age of social media. Delphine lives life to the fullest, and uses it in her work. Not many can claim the unique type of mentorship Diallo received working and collaborating with acclaimed photographer Peter Beard, namely for the Pirelli calendar photo shoot in Botswana. The scope of what Diallo learned and experienced on that trip and with Beard proved priceless to her, in more ways than one. Her future projects continue to be fueled by her mission to combine art with activism. Diallo is using pop culture to express a larger message, drawing on personal experience, by photographing black barbie dolls for a series on racism to appear in the Washington Post in December. The project is titled I Am Not My Body, and it studies the objectification of black women at large. She is also working on a book called Lived Experience, as part of the Diverse Humanity LGBTQ-themed book series. Diallo is photographing members who are over 50 years old, highlighting the wisdom and experience of the community's elders. We talked to Diallo about what it takes to land on the big ideas, how her physical body plays a role in her process, travel, abundance, and more.
What is your daily uniform? Clothing I can train in, because I train four times a week. I'm doing either yoga, or something else.I believe that the body won't function at one hundred percent if you don't wake up the body, and it can be as simple as a stretch in the morning. But I don't like to go to the gym; it makes me depressed. They need to figure out those spaces, because they're not feminine. I don't like to go to those masculine places. They're really kind of stiff, and people train very slow and stiff.
What are you working on? A new book, Lived Experience, part of the Diverse Humanity LGBTQ -themed photo book series. I'm shooting one hundred portraits of LGBTQ people over 50 years old.
How do you get your best ideas? When I'm not thinking about them. For example, I just shot for Vogue Portugal. They asked me for twelve pages and I had to figure out what I was going to do in six days. They told me they wanted flowers and body paint, and the rest was to be up to me. For six days I processed my intention, but on the day of the shoot I start to "function", and it all starts to flow. On the day of the shoot, magic happens. There's a lot of freedom and intuition in my work. I allow space for creativity to come the day of the shoot, and I don't plan ahead. I'm very spontaneous about my creativity.
What do you do when you're stuck? I'm not stuck. I have ideas in abundance. I have to learn how to put them aside.
Are you afraid of anything? I'm afraid of being isolated on a boat in the middle of the water, and no one can pick me up. That's kind of my fear. I jumped out of a plane recently, to face that fear. I thought, I'm 40, let's do it. The beauty of it is that I realized that once you face your fear, even though I was scared when I did it, the next day I realized I was limiting myself, and limiting myself in my work. Fear creates limitations. You have to push further in life, past all of your patterns. Once you see those patterns, everything starts to change. And that brings more space for freedom.
Do you get inspired by traveling? Oh yeah, definitely. I call myself a multidimensional being. I was traveling in Mongolia for a job with the U.N., and this big CEO of a coal company told me "I really admire you, because you, as a photographer, are always dealing with different realities." We can go to different worlds, come back to New York and regroup, then create a new space here.
What is your most amazing recent discovery? I recently had this amazing light within me that told me I not only need to learn consciousness, it needs to be applied in my life. A lot of people go to yoga, learn about consciousness, read books about wisdom. They can talk about it, but they don't really give with abundance, and they're not applying it to their day to day life. My new discovery is, if you apply consciousness, surround yourself with conscious people, money is not a question. Abundance will come.
*For more with Delphine Diallo, download the podcast on Story + Rain Talks. Available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher.