Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photographer Spotlight: Verana Stefani

After the successfull first exhibition of 'Kids Of Grime' at east London's Pure Evil Gallery in Shoreditch, in collaboration with Y'OH streetwear, KIDSOFGRIME will showcase the images of the Grime documentary at the infamous 'In INFART We Trust', introducing Grime culture and music to Italy for the first time. The exhibition is curated by Verena Stefanie Grotto, the Italian photographer, blogger and mastermind behind the KidsOfGrime project, which will take place at the renomated Ezzelini Castle.

The exhibition will be up from the 2nd to the 4th of September 2011 in Bassano del Grappa, Italy. The first night will see the first official presentation of Grime in Italy, with the performance of Jammer, followed by a DJ set of King P.

We caught up with the Italian born, east london living 25 year-old to find out how tough she'd had to be to make it as a photographer.

How did you get into photography?
I've always been into photography somehow because it was a passion of my mother, taking pictures of every part of our lives! My uncle was/is an amazing photographer who always kept it as an hobby more than a profession, so I've been always taking pictures, first as an hobby, than I realised that I could wake up every day and work in what I really love.

Can you give us a brief explanation about how 'Kids of Grime' took shape?
I started getting into Grime, especially into Dizzee, and my curiosity, which is the one of a kid, I wanted to know more about this culture, these reality, these lives; more the behind the scenes, what they like to do, what their lives are about, the mentality, the lifestyle, you know, what was behind the 140 bpm. Being into photography I started looking for pictures about this on the Internet and couldn't really find that much about it, especially these last years. I saw a niche and I decided to be the one who was going to do it now. And I did and here I am! More for a passion than anything else. The name of the book/project was supposed to be 'OnceUponA Grime' (unfortunately, when I started to be more into the scene I found out there was a blog called like that already). The beginning was difficult, nobody wanted to give me a chance to start it. I actually didn't have anything to show anyone, so I never had the opportunity to show people - it was like a dog trying to bite his tail you know what I mean! The opportunity came with JustJam (big up Tim&Barry); I used to roll by myself get my pictures and go home, but to show my material I opened a Wordpress and I decided to call it 'Kids Of The Underground'. Because of a song from the film 'Adulthood' and the idea is because ALL the MCs who started it they were basically kids. People started to call me it... and the rest is history!

How do you hope people in Italy will react?
I'm happy about this opportunity because INFART is a big festival for urban arts and music in Europe. Given that there are artists from all over the world, having my own night is big for me and for Grime, because the media in Italy is not paying it the attention that it deserves. I had an interview with GQ Italy, and that is pretty big, you know, for me and for Grime. Also because most of the people attending don't really know anything, the effect that the picture will have on them will be different than here in UK. They won't see who the person I took picture of is, but they will see the whole thing; the energy, the passion, the reality also of believing in a dream, and the street aspect, the basements, a whole different reality of music and culture. And they will respect it, and appreciate it in a different way.

What's the toughest part of your job?
I couldn't say which one is the toughest, but the tough ones are being a girl sometimes, being from a different culture, and as well, travelling to places I don't know, with my camera and that, during the night sometimes. Also, to make people believe in me.

What's been the toughest decision you've made?
Doing this documentary. When I decided to do it, I left my job at Vivienne Westwood, leaving the whole security of a career in fashion to dedicate most of my time to it. When I decide to do something, I want to do it properly. I'm not doing it for the sake of doing it - having one year taking nice pictures, having the book published and gone. I want to document it in the real way, I want to be in it, know, understand, live. And sometimes, probably for my culture, or how I was used to work, it's really tough for me.

What's next?
I want to keep doing this documentary, but also make a real career in photography. I'm a grime photographer, but most important thing, I'm a photographer! If you get what I mean....

For more, check Kids of Grime

[All pictures by Verena Stefanie. Image of Verena by Beatrice Alessio]

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