London-based photographer Kim Thue’s Dead Traffic is a beautiful yet grim series on Big Wharf, the largest slum in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Thue originally went to the politically-fraught region to document daily life at a charity hospital but found it difficult to create work that went beyond the stereotypical images of poverty. In search of broader photographic opportunities, he ventured into Freetown and ended up in Big Wharf. Many of the residents of Big Wharf had first come to the city in search of better opportunities and, not finding them, ended up in an area ravaged by poverty, crime, violence, and addiction.
The blue-eyed Dane freely admits, in an interview in Gomma, that in “…postcolonial representation there are many ‘traps’ set by problematic precedents that a well-intentioned photographer or outsider can fall into.” He took pains to photograph in the same style as he had previously, in more affluent regions where an inherent colonial relationship wasn’t a factor.
A few copies of Thue’s book, Dead Traffic, are still available through Dienacht Publishing. You can see more of the series here. Thue will be leading workshops at the Photographic Rough House, in June, for which the application deadline is April 2, 2014.