From the Jamaica Observer: Radcliffe Roye, Pictures with Purpose

By ARC Magazine Monday, January 21st, 2013 Categories: Reports, Updates

Radcliffe Roye, featured artist of ARC Issue 1 has come a tremendous way since our feature in January 2011. His work has re-entered the contemporary discourse in Jamaica and is drawing critical attention. The Jamaica Observer speaks to Roye about his upcoming book ‘The Fine Art of Daggering’ and his foray through the world Instagram which is bringing him new successes.

Radcliffe Roye in Maya-Maya, Brazzaville.

For Brooklyn-based, Jamaica-born photographer Radcliffe Roye, his objective is to bring into focus the plight of society’s downtrodden through his work.With credits in such industry standards as Vogue, the New Yorker, Essence, Ebony and the Associated Press, Roye — who was born and raised in Montego Bay — could easily rest on his laurels. Instead, he has a deep-seated desire to bring the existence of groups on the lower rung of society to the fore.

“I shoot this subject matter, not because it’s easy, but rather because it’s easier to ignore the hopeless and destitute in our society. I find it heart-wrenching, and help them through the lens of my camera,” Roye tells the Jamaica Observer. He describes a photo essay he is currently shooting for an unnamed magazine which tracks the daily life of a family in New York. ”Britney, Riley and their two-year-old child live on the streets of New York. It is now winter and they sleep in the subway. What I want to do is bring their existence into focus through my photos.”

From Roye's Instagram collection: Finding refuge inside of a housing complex is sometimes all Nelson Devilla and two year old Riley Rodriquez can do against the frigid and sometimes brutal NYC cold

Roye's Sandy Hook Connecticut December 17, 2012 In Memoriam

He explains that already this work has begun to pay off, as having released images via the social media platform Instagram, he has been able to get response, with persons making offers to assist with food and clothing as well as a job for that family’s patriarch. Roye is currently completing his upcoming project — a book on dancehall titled, The Fine Art of Daggering.

“Seven years ago, Vogue magazine hired me to capture the fashion of the dancehall. Being Jamaican, dancehall/ reggae is my thing, but seeing it through the lens of my camera was an eye-opener. It really changed my view of this music and culture. Dancehall made me open up to social ills,” he said. It is this experience which for him presented dancehall, a culture often frowned on, as fine art. ”I stay away from the sexual overtones — that’s why I never shoot under the skirt of a woman as it takes away from what I am trying to achieve — and what you have is a window into how these persons live,” he says. “Furthermore, just look at the global reach of dancehall. It has made it into North America, Britain, not to mention Japanese culture and society. Really fascinating stuff,” Roye adds.

From the Dancehall: In the wake of Daggering series

A regular in the press pit at major reggae events in Jamaica, Roye says he will be back in Jamaica shortly for a three-month jaunt collecting his final set of images for ‘The Fine Art’. This sociological/ anthropological take on life has paid dividends for this father of two boys, ages seven and four. Following Super Storm Sandy, Roye was among the top 10 photographers chosen by The New Yorker magazine to submit works for its Instagram feed. This is one of the highlights of his career, he states.

“It wasn’t until I realised how vast an audience this reaches, as many as 300,000 at any given time, that it came home to me… and I was like, ‘whoa’!”Roye currently has two works in the National Biennial exhibition at the National Gallery in downtown Kingston. The pieces, Shivering and Petula- Sunset Queen, are taken from his Nigga Beach series which takes its name from the term used by Montego Bay’s affluent to describe the popular public beach in that city.

From the Nigga Beach Series

Read more at the Jamaica Observer.

ARC Magazine
ARC Magazine

ARC Inc. is a non-profit print and online publication and social platform launched in 2011. It seeks to fill a certain void by offering a critical space for contemporary artists to present their work while fostering and developing critical dialogues and opportunities for crucial points of exchange. ARC is an online and social space of interaction with a developed methodology of sharing information about contemporary practices, exhibitions, partnerships, and opportunities occurring in the Caribbean region and throughout its diasporas.