Atlanta Made Us Famous
9 - 17 December 2022
10 - 28 January 2023
Hajar Benjida in conversation with Fiona Rogers
Tuesday 24 January 18.30 - 19.30
TJ Boulting is delighted to present the solo exhibition of Hajar Benjida, the winner of this year’s British Journal of Photography International Photography Award. Atlanta Made Us Famous is an ongoing photo series that highlights the women that play an important role in the Atlanta hip-hop scene.
To the casual passer-by, Magic City strip club in Atlanta, Georgia, appears distinctly ordinary. The small, grey building is perched unceremoniously on the side of a busy road, a glowing neon sign atop its door. However, to those in the know, Magic City is a place where hip-hop history is made. It was once visited by 2Pac and Biggie, and has since hosted performances by Young Thug and 2 Chainz. From her first visit to the club, Hajar Benjida found herself drawn not to the music industry behemoths who frequent it, but to the dancers who entertain them. Her award-winning body of work, Atlanta Made Us Famous, captures brief moments in the lives of these women – important players in Atlanta’s hip-hop scene, whose contributions are too often overlooked. Ongoing since 2018, the series comprises portraits of dancers, mothers, wives, breadwinners, all posing as any famous musician might, offering a highly emotive mix of fierce confidence and palpable vulnerability. Distinctly separate from Magic City’s prevailing male gaze, Benjida presents a powerful insight into the dancers’ respective worlds, celebrating them as the stars of the city.
“I first visited Atlanta in 2018, and the photography studio I interned at was located right across the street from Magic City, a legendary strip club that should be familiar to anyone who knows anything about rap music. For the past few years, I have been capturing the hip-hop scene, including a number of Atlanta-based rappers, which drew me to the world of the city’s dancers. In U.S. hip-hop culture, strip clubs like Magic City are the launch pad for hit records and superstar careers, and the dancers are a vital part of the scene. Over the course of several weeks, I spent days and nights with my camera documenting the club’s dancers. I went from befriending Ms. Elaine, who has been the 'house mother' of the strippers of Magic City for 30 years, to being invited to the homes of dancers like Cleo, a mother of one. The hiphop scene is mostly written about and photographed by men — my work offers a perspective that leaves the male gaze out completely. Through documenting the lives of these women and getting to know them, I learned more about how they approached their work, ownership over their images, having agency stripped from the narratives around their bodies in their own respective worlds, and their relationships to motherhood—and above all, I hope to show that their images hold power and importance beyond hip-hop and its surrounding culture. From my perspective, it’s the dancers that shine as the stars of the city.”
Hajar Benjida in conversation with Fiona Rogers, curator V&A Parasol Foundation for Women in Photography, Tuesday 24 January 18.30 - 19.30 GMT via Zoom, free to register HERE
Thank you to Beyond Print for supporting the print, frame and light-box production.
Hajar Benjida (b. 1995) is a Moroccan Dutch photographer and visual artist from The Netherlands. She graduated from HKU University of the Arts Utrecht in 2019 with a BA in photography. In her personal work, Benjida has an intimate documentary approach, from photographing some of today’s biggest names in hip-hop to capturing the strip club scene in Atlanta and its impact on the music industry and narratives around women and the agency of their bodies.