'GOLD' / Joshua Sim
Drawing on philosophy and actualised through photography, Melbourne-based portrait photographer Joshua Sim (IG: the.dr1fter) aims to explore the human condition through concepts such as death, worry, happiness, success and discrimination. The lenses of his camera bring visibility to humans’ differently-lived experiences; shaped by the power structures in our world which rely upon the very opposite to persist, that of hiding injustice away.
‘GOLD’, his latest photography series featuring Ruben Majok (@rubenthecreative), visually captures the experience of people of colour living in a Western land. In conjunction with his visual project, Joshua also wrote a short essay that deepens the exploration of his subject matter.
“What does it mean to be a person of colour?
Invisible. Perhaps that’s the best way to encapsulate the feeling – the feeling and perception that your voice is constantly silenced and muted, the feeling that your raised hand is never counted, and the feeling that your presence is brushed off and yet to be acknowledged. To grow in a country where you learn that the history of both yourself and your ancestry are overshadowed by a greater and ‘superior’ narrative - overpowered by the voices and echoes that tell you of your inferiority, of your weakness, and that no matter how much your try to adapt and belong, you’ll never be good enough.
As if it were wind. You feel its omnipresent force on your skin, the way it manipulates and bends your body into its own image – its presence so chilling and distressing, and just like wind, you are never able to grasp nor see it. That regardless of how many times you shout and cry of its devastating effect, those around you question your claims. They call you crazy and misguided – a polluted mind that believes in a world of make-believe. Yet the more they silence you and the more you are made to feel invisible, the colder and more suffocating the wind feels – further tightening its grip around you.
How funny, that although your own inner voices and thoughts are distorted and blurred within the greater picture, you can’t help but feel visible as well. That what is made visible is your own inherent difference to your peers – each feature of your face and body is made evidently clear to you. Not of how it looks as is, but of how it appears unusual and ‘uncommon’; too dark, too big, too small - these seem to be the normalised way of describing someone who appears as ‘different’. But what we often fail to realise is that such language is entangled within a dialectic – that for something to be too dark it requires something as light, something as small, and something as big. That we shape ourselves based on an invisible standard – a standard positioned onto us. That as our dissident voices become silenced, our eyes and ears become exposed to an image of what is supposedly ‘normal’ – hypnotised to by its effect.
This is what it means to possess ‘colour’. Our inner-self, our thoughts, worries and perspectives are made invisible, but our outer-self and its characteristics, ‘differences’, and features become continually visible. This is what it feels like.”