Justin Dingwall is a South African photographer based in Johannesburg, who works across both commercial advertising – alongside the likes of Sony and Adobe – and fine art projects, which have been awarded by GQ and The International Photography Awards.
A Seat at the Table began when Moostapha Saidi contacted Dingwall in April 2018 via Instagram. “Moostapha worked in a call centre at the time, but he wanted to move into the modelling industry. I was immediately struck by his story: by the juxtaposition of being in a call centre – dealing with people on a daily basis – but not being seen by any of them. As with my previous projects, the resulting series is not so much about race or fashion, but perception and individuality.”
Dingwall was interested in using everyday objects in the images – presenting them in new and intriguing ways, where the spouts of kettles act like elaborate detailing on headdresses and googly eyes draw an unsettling comparison with popcorn, and the act of watching.
“We used thousands of eyes to represent how people stare at someone when they don’t fit into preconceived ideas. In five of the works we placed precious stones on Moostapha’s skin. This idea came from our discussions about his life and how the world perceives sees him through the vitiligo. Moostapha no longer sees his vitiligo as a hindrance, but as something precious and unique. In these images, he often stares back at the viewer, questioning their gaze.”
Credits: All images courtesy of the artist, from the Seat at the Table series.