[ARTIST SPOTLIGHT] FREDSON SOSSAVI
Nepenthes NY set up the Artist Spotlight to delve further into the artwork exhibited at the store. In this series, we interview the artists involved with the show. We ask them questions about their art, the exhibition, and what New York means to them.
This time, we are featuring photographer Fredson Sossavi, whose exhibit "Where I’m Calling From" is running in-store now.
Fredson Sossavi was born in Togo, a small nation on Africa’s western coast. His father successfully applied for a visa as a political refugee, and studied engineering in New York City before taking a job with Intel. Fredson and his mother immigrated a few years later - living in Oregon, and New Mexico, before finally settling in Marlboro, Massachusetts. Fredson’s search for self-actualization was shaped by his distance from city life. Finding himself lacking the stimuli of metropolitan activity, he resolved to make do on his own, pursuing creative endeavors like skateboarding, breakdancing, and beatboxing.
During high school, Fredson was introduced to the photos of Gordon Parks, a prominent photojournalist whose documentation of African-Americans in 1940’s New York led to a fascination with photography and New York City, a place he grew up hearing about from his father and views as a center of extreme cultural exchange.
Digging deeper into his passions, Fredson came upon work of the Harlem Renaissance, and was awed by the movement’s leading figures’ combination of artistic exploration in literature, music, and poetry, along with so-called “hard-skills” in fields of law, finance and engineering. His admiration for the finely tailored suits of the 1920’s awoke an appreciation for American Traditional clothing - and the items manufactured by Engineered Garments - making Nepenthes New York a fitting venue for his first solo exhibition. Fredson enrolled in Suffolk University, cultivating his artistic endeavors with a career in law, graduating in 2017.
Successful in his academic studies, but yearning for expression of his own, he crafted an idea for a photo project of his own, drawing inspiration from the photography that inspired him in high school. In regards to narrative structure, he sought to emulate writers like Raymond Carver, whose three page short story Popular Mechanics deftly combines brevity with intricacy, creating a powerful commentary on the human condition.
Picking up his Fujifilm camera (his initial attempt using Polaroids ended in dark and sometimes blurry photographs), he ventured not within the bustling urban centers of Boston, but back to his hometown of Marlborough, Massachusetts. With the help of a tripod, he combined low ISO levels with long exposures, creating crisp images in low-light environments. He remarks on the terror he felt walking through these suburban locales after sundown, a feeling not often associated with the serenity of small New England towns. This contradictory notion is showcased in his work, where no human subjects are revealed, but which seems to hint at an ominous presence just out of sight of his camera’s lens - an examination between energetic city nightlife and the undiscussed dread of suburban life at night.
Today, Fredson continues to take after his heroes of the Harlem Renaissance, pursuing his art alongside his job working as a Records Access Officer for the Public Records Division of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.