A self-proclaimed choreo-photolist currently residing in Manchester, Benji Reid fuses photography with theatricality and choreography. He has an uncanny ability to capture motion and emotion in a single image or series of images. What we love about Benji is his use of photography as a medium to ‘circumvent cultural gatekeepers’.
When did you start on your journey of creativity?
I started being creative at an early age. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to dance and act. There was something about being embodied or being in the moment that felt like flying. I tapped into something special very young. I also had the ability to take electronic objects apart and put them back together again.
How would you define creativity?
Creativity is the ability to see things differently and then put it into action. It’s not only limited to the arts.
How did you come to combine choreography and photography, and what prompted the idea?
Photography found me. I had a camera that was lying around after my dance theatre company had folded… one day I took the camera up and I never put it down. I wanted to explore how I would tell stories using this lens. I had no choice – these things were available to me, and sometimes the act of art comes from desperate circumstances.
You mention Mon Oncle and Jason and the Argonauts as some of your earliest inspirations. What about these films inspired you?
They both explored different worldviews, fantastical and absurd; worlds of the imagination that were both very visual and far from mundane. I was an introverted child and these films inspired me, as I would place myself in them and escape.
Where else do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in everything. One just has to be attentive.
How do you think technology has changed art and how it is consumed?
One of the advantages of technology is that we can reach a wider audience with our work.
The down side is that some art is becoming like fast food. It hard to predict where it’s going but AI is on the horizon, how this will affect the art, God only knows.
What kind of stories are you attempting to tell through your work?
My work is mainly about the black body through the black male lens. Personal and political.
Tell us about your workshops and masterclasses. What do they cover and who should attend?
My masterclass focuses on visual theatre, making the connection between the body and emotion as the starting point, and then I introduce text. Curious people should attend.