#SubjectMatter | A Conversation with Anaka

the condition of being known or talked about by many people, especially on account of notable achievements.


Depending upon your proximity to its pearly gated doors, the world of the famous remain a mystique to us, distant and unfathomable like the universe to an ant. It’s true, fame is everywhere. Engrained in every culture of the world. In the 21st century, it can almost feel imprisoning. You can’t escape it. Someone always seems to be more important than you, and the world will devote all of its energy to tell you. From YouTube to Vine, Twitter and Instagram, our eyes are glued to the tiny portals of our smart phones, watching in real-time of the lavish lifestyles of the rich, wealthy, powerful and popular on the other end of the screen. Who is Kendrick when he puts down the mic? When the lights turn down, does Drake morph back into wheelchair Jimmy or regular Aubrey? At the end of the day, we ask ourselves who are these people? Why are they so popular? I suppose the better question would be: why do we make them so real? Not that these things are necessarily mutually exclusive, as I learned from a conversation with Anaka, the LA-based photographer and director whose work has been a critical eye to these contested identities in her on-going photo series, “FAME“.
“The weird part about fame for me is that it’s suppose to be this exclusive status that is only achieved by a privileged group, but at the same time, at least in American culture, this privileged status seems to always be put on blast…there are literally hundreds of magazines just dedicated to revealing the secret lives of the “exclusive and famous.” A part of it I think is to humanize them, but another part is to use them as entertainment and not really as humans.”
“You never know when you’re gonna drop off or not. And that’s the druggy-feeling part of fame; it’s like, you have it and it feels so good, and you have all these people around you to recognize you for your art. But at the same time, there’s this element of money and power that comes from the capitalist or institutionalized culture that we live in that could [potentially] slice you off whenever they want.”

Currently studying American Studies, Photography & Film at University of Southern California, Anaka has now dedicated her last year in undergrad to a senior project that allows her to be hands on with her degree. Examining fame as a social construct like class, race or gender, she uses ethnographic research methods to explore this multi-faceted topic through film photography, a strategic approach than an aesthetic choice in maintaining the true identity of her subjects. This interdisciplinary study challenges the static notions of success, accomplishment and self-fulfillment in the context of American culture, where FAME brings the viewer behind the veil and into the unfamiliar that we know very little about, while at the same time makes this parallel universe become more real and inevitably relatable from one image to another.

Check out her latest installment of her series below!

Follow Anaka on Instagram! & VSCO!

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