‘If they can do it, we can to!’
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18-year-old Photographer Ken Bacchus
18-year-old Photographer Ken Bacchus

Guyanese #Voguecchallenge sees a call for wider diversity in mainstream media
As the world continues to grapple with the novel Coronavirus, many art enthusiasts are finding innovative ways to create and showcase their work, one of those being the most recent ‘Vogue Challenge’ which took the internet by storm last week.

Bacchus’ version of the Vogue challenge modelled by Kenny Hercules and Clinton Duncan

The challenge, which went viral, saw models, stylists and photographers posting their take of Vogue covers, demanding change in the industry to ensure greater diversity and opportunities in Guyana and the Caribbean.

Model, stylist and cultural curator, Clinton Duncan who posted several pictures to his social media platforms stated that for far too long international brands like Vogue have benefitted from the Afro and Caribbean community, while not crediting the sources and now is the time to put an end to it.

“Ninety percent of the decision-makers in Vogue are white, 70 percent of the creatives are black and that’s a problem! It’s exploiting the black aesthetic- ‘blacksploitation’- without any of the credits or accolades. The challenge goes to show that we have the talent and our content is just as good or even better, that is what actually makes it on the cover sometimes,” Duncan expressed to The Buzz.

He added, “Vogue, in particular, has fashion editors that travel around the world- Caribbean – included and soak up our vibe, the way we mix prints and colours, our locations, our music and take that inspiration back to America, Europe and Italy and market it as the new hip thing without any mention of its roots.”

The fashion enthusiast further stated that it is now time for Guyanese as well as other Caribbean countries to take back what is rightfully theirs and market their work all while collaborating.

“ [We have to build] our own thing from the ground up, content for us by us…we have to cross collaborate, designers collaborating with videographers collaborating with musicians collaborating with photographers, none of us can do it alone. We need each other and we need the laws to help us. We need laws that mandate a certain amount of Guyanese content on radio and television; we need laws that protect copyrights, and more access to creative arts funding,” Duncan said.

Vogue 4 Clinton Duncan’s version of the Vogue challenge

Meanwhile, 18-year-old photographer Ken Bacchus, also put a spin on the Vogue challenge sharing several pieces of his work. He stated that, “ Vogue is such a high-end magazine. I noticed a lot of persons pushed themselves to their creative limit. It shows that we have that potential to be showcased on magazines such as Vogue. I was very inspired to see my fellow artists doing some amazing work for this challenge.”

The teen told The Buzz as it relates to the development of the arts in Guyana, he believes that Guyanese first have to change the mindset of that careers in art are unimportant.
“We teach children to glorify and mainstream lawyers and doctors as the only suitable and successful careers, and that needs to be modified. Obviously, I’m not taking away the importance of those careers, art just needs to be offered as an available option as much as they are,” he stated.

Guyana, he added, also needs more tertiary learning facilities in place for persons wanting to go even further with their education, “ A lot of the time local creatives have to go on YouTube to watch tutorials or join an online class, which is fine for some people, but when we’re talking about importance, a registered facility to teach these crafts speaks on that,” he said.

The young photographer also made a call for the implementation of more organisations that offer jobs for persons with their relevant qualifications in art. “What a lot of Guyanese do not realise is that art is more than just a paintbrush or a sketch pad. Art is identity, it is a form of self-expression. It’s way to show a country’s individuality by showcasing its culture, traditions and history. ‘There’s an art in doing everything’ as we like to say,” Bacchus said.

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