feature: ‘the unbabylonians’ – the captivating photography series from guadeloupean filmmaker damien jélaine

August 7, 2015

Take a look at the captivating work of photographer Damien Jélaine, a Guadeloupean filmmaker – introduced to the world of cinema by his mother at the age of 7 – who turned to photography as a way of creating visuals more frequently . Inspired by filmmakers such as Larry Clark, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Jélaine left his Caribbean island (which he describes as being stuck between “paradise” and the reality of poverty, violence, hurricanes, and slavery’s ghosts) and moved to Paris to study filmmaking. By the end of his studies, he had his first feature under his belt (‘Public Bitches’, a film about two french prostitutes and their pursuit of freedom through violence) and since then Jélaine has lived all over the world, taking his camera along for the ride. His latest photography series is ‘Sigi-Thyor: The Unbabylonians‘. He states, “Unbabylonians, that’s what we want to be out there. To be “freed from Babylon”. Brothers and sisters engaging themselves in the hyper-commercialization of their history. Some of them are still chained somehow. But as kings and queens of the Popular Culture, I believe in the future of the Diaspora, we will prevail.” Explore below.

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor


The young creative tells us: “Guadeloupe, Haïti, Grenada, Madagascar, Paris, Australia, it doesn’t matter. We are all the same. Our common blackness is the ultimate gift, our struggle, the one that drives us to reclaim our history and the love we owe ourselves, is inherent in who we are, no matter where will live. This is what this series is about, many distant black figures that show how connected we are to one another; and how our intra-communal fury is as dramatic as it is stupid. ‘Divide and rule’ has put us down, ‘Unite and fight’ will get us back to the top. I called these figures the “Unbabylonians”: those who free themselves from the system.”