Photographer Julian Ali aims to complete his ongoing project #BLACKkings in 2021, which we have the pleasure of sharing with you. The photographer is a creative originally from Norfolk Virigina, currently living in Harlem also known as ‘Ali’. Ali pursued his creative passion for the arts completing a BFA at James Madison University, where they began to take an interdisciplinary approach to creative practices. Ali examines the image of Black men, exploring an archival portrait collection taken of 100 men of distinction with unique black experiences. The continuous injustice faced by black people is prevalent, this cross-generational an intersectional study captures the resilience and power of these black men.
Ali is a visual storyteller that moves people to compassion and opens their eyes to the world around them. Through art, he aims to shed light on complex social issues that are often overlooked. #BLACKkings projects a portrait of the Black Male identity that is empowered, resilient, and continually making real world change. The project provides a snapshot of each individual’s feature and personalities; with the aim to capture true essence rather than an idealised notion of Blackness. In #BLACKkings, the images are a collective look at Black men, traversing complexion, sexuality, and even ethnicity or age. They show Black men not as monolithic representations but as multifaceted and the victors of their lives. As Huey P. Newton once said, “Black Power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their own destiny”.
Ali began this photographic journey in 2018, building an organic audience with over 11,000 supporters who appreciate his work. The power of social media has led to the project receiving a significant amount of engagement, although #BLACKkings is yet to be completed. As it stands, the project is ongoing and only a little more than halfway complete, with 74 kings on display.
Follow Ali on Instagram here to keep up with the completion of #BLACKkings