As Nataal’s special project at AKAA opens, we introduce the artists who make up our exhibition

Meet Durimel. Twins Jalan and Jibril Durimel draw inspiration for their work from their diversified upbringing between the French Antilles and the US. Born in Paris to parents from the island of Guadeloupe, at the age of four they moved to Miami where they first immersed themselves in American culture. It was while living on the island of St Maarten as teenagers, however, that they first became interested in cinema. This led them back to the US to study film in Los Angeles. Their passion is for shedding light on life’s unseen and romantic moments, and using their skill to tell the stories of the diaspora.

For Nataal’s special project at AKAA art fair in Paris this week (read the full story here), Durimel have selected a series of personal images of their peers and surroundings that play with space, shape and composition. Here they tell us more.

Describe the images you have selected for AKAA.
Most of these images, well at least the ones with people, are all about the moment. We’re looking to compose images that can communicate a feeling or understanding about a type of person. Most of the time it’s fiction. The goal is to present a moment of character and story. As we go further into our experiments we hope to tell stronger narratives.

The image Black Boys I Knew Who Could Self-Reflect is intriguing.
We've known a lot of black men having big egos and not self-reflecting on their faults or maybe even strengths. This image shows black men doing the contrary.

What messages do you hope visitors to the Nataal exhibition will come away having seen your work?
In general, we hope to share a different perspective through graceful beauty. We hope that people see the beauty of these people. We’re not heavy activists but beauty is comfort and people tend to not reject comfort so much whether it’s “dirty”, “black” or “bitter”. People understand beauty.

Who inspires you?
While we’re really inspired by certain artists, we mostly look to people in our past. Remembering character traits, practices and lifestyles of our people in the Caribbean really gets us thinking of new things to present.

What has been a rewarding recent project?
We directed the video for Bet by the singer Mereba. She’s a really good friend of ours so we were happy to have done a project together and hear people’s reactions.

How do you find the diaspora creative community in LA?
It’s not too present but there’s definitely some strong moves being made. First and foremost, the Underground Museum, which is run by Khalil Joseph and his family is incredible. The Papillon gallery also showcases great work. Unfortunately LA is not too intricately diverse/integrated. When we visit other cities such as London and New York we feel that interest for cosmopolitan cultures but LA is a bit too care free at times. Things are getting better though.

What are your future plans?
We hope to prepare storybooks and films that can present more complex perspectives of a black person. Nothing too aggressive, nothing too political, just a different side of things.

AKAA is at Carreau du Temple, 4 rue Eugène Spuller, 75003, Paris from 11 to 13 November


Words Helen Jennings

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