‘Some of the dancers make up to $5,000 a night,’ begins Ivar Wigan, ‘they have the clothes, the cars, and date the hot names in rap. These girls are respected and envied in their communities. For me, making the series was about being part of it, and showing it from their side and avoiding the politics.’
It is those dancers and hot names in rap who largely comprise the British photographer’s series, The Gods (its title the name given to the seasoned hustlers who have ‘survived’ the streets), Wigan snaring moments shared between communities oft reviled in mainstream media. Currently showing at Los Angeles art space Little Big Man Gallery, The Gods shows off the artist’s powerful, immersive photography; the outsider able to remove preconceptions from his images by way of his upbringing on the other side of the pond.
Indeed, you might think that the readily-demonised street culture of America’s south would be a tough place for a white guy from Scotland to immerse himself into, but immerse himself he has, Wigan’s emotive images gracefully capture the real lives of those who are living, and thriving, in the urban fringes of cities like New Orleans, Miami, and Atlanta; trust built through his representations of reality, his empathy for the people behind the iconography.
In looking behind the perceived danger, Wigan (who has an MA in History of Art and Ancient History) has drawn comparisons between the marginalised communities and Classicism — that analogy brought to life through his deft composition. ‘I saw parallels between people outside the law and the classical allusion,’ he explains. ‘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.’
The Gods, continues at at Little Big Man Gallery, Los Angeles, until 21 June.