Photographers Recast Cinematic Moments with Senegalese Actors - and the Result is Extraordinary

When two Dakar-based photographers recreated with some familiar on-screen moments, they created a response - and a backlash - they never imagined.

Photo Credit: Omar Victor Diop, Antoine Tempé

For those whose culture defines the look of popular entertainment (namely, white people), it can be difficult to notice the racial supremacy that exists in within the media. Racism is now more readily apparent in the way we think of beauty than in how we sit on buses, but occasionally, artists can spotlight the unspoken prejudices we still carry. 

Enter Omar Victor Dio and Antoine Tempé, two photographers based in Dakar, Senegal.Their project, ONOMOllywood, "comprises twenty images inspired by iconic moments of great American and French movies"--except that the photographs' subjects were recast to represent the cultural composition of Dakar.

The photographers' website notes that although the principle aim of the project was to pay homage to some of their favorite moments in cinema, they also wanted to "give perspective on the modern cultural scenes of the cities where [the] photos were taken." The images range from a re-imagining of the shower scene in Psycho to the iconic still of Holly Golightly twirling a cigarette holder in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Unsurprisingly, there was backlash from some who interpreted the project "as a sort of 'revenge' of black people against a too 'white' Hollywood," though the photographers insist that the portfolio is "a celebration, a well deserved homage to geniuses of cinema," couched in the realities of the space where they created the work. 

Besides, it's not like the two men appropriated the cultural trappings of another group for their own insular amusement. 

An interview with the photographers can be found here, and here is a link to their partial online gallery. 

Aaron Cantú is an investigator for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and an independent journalist based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @aaronmiguel_
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