Words by Siobhan Ryan
BLACK IN THE DAY explores black history in its own unique fashion; an archival project set up by JoJo and Tania, both 24, collecting images of black history using images submitted by the public. Often collected at scanning socials bringing black communities together both online, within the archive and in person at these social events. A project with so much promise to fill a gap in history, and to offer a great spin on how we view black history today- these images are insights into black culture, history, and personal lives from an acute perspective capturing individualism, community, and similarity within black culture in such a cool, effortless manner. We spoke to JoJo one half of the duo about the enormity of such a project.
Siobhan: Where did this idea originate?
Jojo: So…it was like October and Tania and I were working on a poem for black history month. She was working on the poem and I was working on some visuals. We did the poem and we shot the first visuals, but I wasn’t really too happy with it, you know what I’m saying? But somehow everything kinda flopped and cooled down. Then January last year I said should we bring this back, even if it’s not black history month, and she [Tania] wanted to incorporate her parents more… The poem was about her parents when they first came to this country. So, she wanted to have old pictures of her parents, and I wanted to asked our friends and add stuff as well. We decided to just make it a project and then Tania came up with a name. We became ‘blkintheday.’
S: What’s been the best part about working on this project?
J: Seeing the photos, like they’re all almost the same but so different, because it’s people’s families, like weddings or family parties. There’s so much in these photos that remind me of my experiences growing up. It’s just good to see how people lived, especially in the 60’s and 70’s, ‘cos the 90’s I was there but like…
S: You’ve received such a lot of images, what kind of range have you had?
J: The most we have are of parents and their kids, like family days out, or snaps in the house, some at Christmas. Lots of big hall parties, it’s mainly an African thing, but where families hire out large halls and have a big party, you know what I’m saying? There’s a couple’a weddings, not loads, but there is a couple. But mostly they’re family orientated.
S: The scanning socials you do to get the images, are these more of a practicality or a way to bring the community together?
J: It’s both really…because we realised maybe, after a month or so of having releasing the project that this email thing, it’s calm and it’s a good idea, but it’s not really getting the response we expected. It’s kinda long for them to scan photos, label them and email. So we decided we’d do it for them, plus that means everyone gets to show each other the photos. So, it just killed two birds with one stone.
S: Have you considered the value of such a large archive of personal photos? And potentially what could happen with this in the future?
J: From the beginning this was kinda for the kids, this was something we kinda wanted to go to schools with and stuff. I mean we’re looking at making a book as well. We’re like definitely doing this for the long term. We’d like to fill in, you know, a couple of gaps like at school when you do history, I wanna’ look at black history and fill in a couple of gaps. We wanna be the gap filler.
S: This project has been at The Tate and at the V&A how did working with such big names come about?
J: Well the V&A we got scouted for, someone recommended us and that was crazy, the only time I’ve ever really been there was when I worked there as a waiter. Then The Tate, like, that was even crazier, cos after the V&A we said that would be the last scanning social of the year but then The Tate came along and asked if we could work with them in the next year.Great stages like the V&A and Tate makes our work look credible, so if we wanna go to Manchester or Liverpool, which we do, we’ve done the Tate and the V&A now.
The next scanning social will take place some time February.
You can view a portion of the journey so far and submit to the project Here.
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