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Der Greif X MPB: Behind the Image with Aleruchi Kinika


On April 2nd, Der Greif hosted an Instagram live event featuring Nigerian talent Aleruchi Kinika, who was awarded the Guest Room Scholarship for our Guest Room exhibition curated by Tina Campt & Keisha Scarville. The exhibition, titled "Poetics of Darkness," showcases Kinika's surreal photographic work, which tells visual stories through captivating images. One of her standout photographs from the series "Sweet, Tart and a Little Bit of Both" explores life's hues with a melancholic and metaphorical touch. According to the photographer, this series represents an unpredictable journey filled with both delightful and sharp moments. "Sweet, Tart and a Little Bit of Both" presents an unconventional way of connecting with metaphors, emphasizing a bond that doesn't aim to change our surroundings, but rather to be transformed by them. In this series, Kinika uses portraits of feminine figures to respond and react to symbolic elements found in nature. These figures, while breaking through the darkness, artistically merge with vibrant fruits. By placing female bodies, including her own, at the heart of her storytelling, Kinika explores the power and significance of these narratives.

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Der Greif: Can you tell us what this scholarship means to you?

This scholarship brings hope to me and my work, and gives me a chance to create more and be more. It also makes me and my work feel seen and appreciated, further increasing my drive to do more while giving me the opportunity to. I am truly grateful!

Der Greif: What kind of gear do you work with?

I usually work with a Nikon D3200, which I used for this project that I presented. I also work with a Sony A7RII.

Der Greif: What is the story behind the first camera you ever used?

I have always had a strong desire to pursue photography, but due to financial constraints, I was unable to afford a camera. As a result, I mostly relied on my mobile phone for capturing images. In 2019, I finally confided in my cousin, Adaibea, about my passion. To my surprise, she revealed that she owned a camera - a Nikon D3200 with a kit lens - which she rarely used. She generously offered to let me borrow it, despite living in Canada while I resided in Nigeria. Determined to make it work, we explored various options for safely shipping the camera to me, although it meant I had to wait a little longer. Nevertheless, the anticipation filled me with excitement. After a few months, I finally received the Nikon D3200. It remains one of the most cherished gifts I have ever received, and I am forever grateful to my cousin for her immense kindness. I diligently saved up money and, after some time, managed to purchase the 50mm 1.8 lens to further enhance my photography skills.

Der Greif: What do you value the most in your gear today?

I am looking for something that allows me to explore both videography and photography. I am looking for a product that can serve me for a long time. I need lenses and camera bodies that can be interchanged, shoot in 4K, and allow me to explore low light photography, among many other features.

Der Greif: Where do you stand on used gear?

I do not mind that much about whether gears are used or new. I currently use a Sony a7rii, which I bought used. Affording brand new gear isn't so easy for me at this point, especially for a professional mirrorless camera. So, used gear gives photographers like us a chance to buy the needed gear for sure.

Der Greif: Can you tell us the story behind your winning Guest Room image, "Sweet, Tart and a Little Bit of Both"?

This image signifies my idea of holding on and being hopeful, even when it's hard to do so. Life is like buying an apple or any fruit at all; you never know what you're going to get. It can be sweet, tart, or sometimes a little bit of both. This image signifies how my dreams and nightmares all fuel me to be the person I am.

Der Greif: Can you expand on the themes that your photography explores?

My photography explores love, beauty, culture, and melancholy in my everyday life. I like to tell stories of my emotions and what goes on in my head and around my world through pictures and words.

Der Greif: Who are some photographers that inspire your work?

I get inspired by my emotions, things around me, or images, even without knowing who the author of a certain work is. However, so many photographers inspire me in various ways. I would say that one photographer who inspires me the most is my dearest friend, Rachel Seidu.

Der Greif: What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on a project centered around first-time pregnant women and women with their firstborn children. It's a project documenting the experiences of first-time mothers and how they navigate unfamiliar territory. It explores their joys, struggles, and relationships with their first child - the first person they ever created. As a first child myself, I believe it's a story that should be shared. The project is still in its early stages due to various factors, but I am excited to eventually share it with the world.

Der Greif: What is the biggest challenge you have faced in photography?

I would say the biggest challenge I have faced recently is financial constraints, which make it difficult to travel, pay models and makeup artists, and buy costumes and set designs when necessary.

Der Greif: How do you engage with new technologies in your work?

I work mostly with photo editing applications as I strive to maintain authenticity. Currently, I am also exploring Premiere Pro, along with other video editing apps, because I want to tell stories through filmmaking. I am currently using a mirrorless camera, which is an upgrade from what I have been accustomed to. I am always willing to learn and if I discover new ways to enhance my storytelling, I will explore them.

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