Jason Andrew is an American photojournalist currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Jason is one of the selected participants in the 2013 edition of the Delhi Photo Festival and will feature in a print exhibition with his work ‘Black Diamonds’. Here is a part of an e-interview…
MM : Howdoes it feel to be selected to the second edition to the Delhi Photo Festival – what was your first reaction?
JA : To find out my work was selected for the Delhi Photo Festival felt great as it was the first festival that I have applied to with this work. I thought the work could be a great fit with the growth of the Indian Professional Football League over the past 6 years and the amount of Nigerian footballers that it’s attracted since it’s inception. To be asked to exhibit this work has been really exciting because it will be the first time it’s been exhibited anywhere.
MM : Tell us a bit about your work at the festival this year and where the inspiration came from…
The project that I’m showing at this years festival is called “Black Diamonds” is a project about the human trafficking of footballers from West Africa who get “moved” to Istanbul, Turkey, allegedly on their way to great futures in Europe, and become stuck there for years, sometimes decades. My project explores the social and economical lives of these trafficked athletes as they live within the shadows of a country that denies them their civil liberties and rights, unable to work or play. Currently, there are an estimated 20,000 footballers stranded in Europe who have all fallen victim to unlicensed and unscrupulous agents and scouts who are making a small fortune off of the hopes of these young, impoverished and uneducated players.
I was inspired by this project on my first trip to Istanbul when I walked into an internet cafe one evening and there were 15-20 African footballers watching a Chelsea match on the small TV. After speaking to Akeem, one of the main guys that I’ve been photographing in this project and hearing about how he had arrived only 3 months earlier, I felt it was an important story to tell with the growth of Football and it’s importance on local and national economies throughout the world.
MM : What are you currently working on?
JA : Currently, I’ve been shooting a lot of assignment work for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine and for The Wall Street Journal. That’s been keeping me busy as I’ve began to do a book lay-out for this body of work that I’ll begin to show around in the coming months. I’m in the planning stages of a few new projects but they’re currently so new, I would prefer to not talk about them until I begin shooting.
MM : As a young photographer, you have seen a fair share of festivals around the world – how do you think DPF is different? Any expectations?
JA : Because I won’t be able to attend DPF this year, I don’t know how it will compare to some of the larger festivals that I’ve been too like Perpignan or LOOK 3. I only hope that people will respond positively to the work that I’m showing.
– Mansi Midha