Photo project

The Gods: How the Rappers of the American South Relax

London photographer Ivar Wigan captured the street life of African-American rappers, looking for godlike things in their marginal culture.
Ivar Wigan Age 37

British photographer. Born in Scotland, raised in London. Studied art history and ancient history in Edinburgh university. In his early years worked in the movie industry, fashion and advertising photography. Currently works on documentary projects.

The Gods is a series that depicts the street culture associated with the urban music scene of the American South. The photos were taken in Miami, Atlanta, and New Orleans. In slang taken from the community Wigan documents, a ‘God’ is a veteran hustler — someone who has either survived the ‘streets’ and/or the complex maze of America’s prison system. This lionization of what might be considered a transgressive community is a central theme of Wigan’s work.

The author thinks that the images are a celebration of a marginalized and often demonized culture. He attempted to show it with admiration: “I saw parallels between people outside the law and the classical allusion. Within the community, there is a huge amount of time spent on refining the image — there are classical ideas of beauty present in the way people present themselves.”

Wigan’s decision is not to impose the rigors of a subjective gaze, images maintain a desire to represent the communities upon their own terms of aesthetic principle.

“Some of the dancers make up to $5,000 a night, they have the clothes, the cars, and date the hot names in rap. For me, making the series was about being part of it, and showing it from their side and avoiding the politics.” — Wigan says.

Photos provided by the author and Little Big Man Gallery.

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