drkrm is pleased to present BINGWA, Pej Behdarvand's photo series documenting bodybuilding in rural Africa. The exhibition will be on view from June 8 through June 29, 2013 with an opening reception on Saturday, June 8 from 7-10pm.
Bingwa is a Swahili word that translates not only as "expert" or "competent," but also as "bodybuilder." This project began when the photographer stumbled across a website featuring African bodybuilding and was struck by the appeal that bodybuilding has around the world, even in impoverished rural Africa. Behdarvand traveled to Kenya and Uganda and documented the homemade gyms and equipment and photographed a local bodybuilding contest. He was amazed by the resourcefulness and determination these men possessed by taking up bodybuilding in countries where there are so few resources, opportunities and facilities for it.
"Upon completion of documenting the gyms, bodybuilders and the contest. My feeling was that I captured the physical world, but a large part of my experience was yet unresolved.” Pej explains, “What felt missing was the essence of the solitude, vanity, and self-idealization that permeated my time spent on this project. To further understand this subculture, I rented a passport studio for a few hours. Here I tried to isolate and dematerialize the figure to explore the motivation behind the self-glorification and to also challenge the viewer to examine his or her own notions of male beauty."
Born in Tehran, Iran, Pej Behdarvand is a photographer who currently resides in Los Angeles. He was screening his short movies domestically in film festivals while attending the San Francisco Art Institute where he received his B.F.A. in Film. After his education, he began to experiment with photography and developed a portfolio, which landed him commercial assignments and awards from American Photography and Communication Arts. The ongoing Monk portraiture series brought him to Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka to document different traditions of monastic life and explore why individuals choose to live outside society. The landscape series, Dreaming California, exhibited at drkrm in 2011, employed the old Hollywood technique known as Day for Night to capture a somewhat darker aspect of the "sunny California" landscape. The series, BINGWA, is his first completed personal documentary project.
drkrm is an exhibition space dedicated to the display of popular cultural images, fine art photography, documentary and photo journalism, cutting edge and alternative photographic processes. drkrm is located in the historic Chung King Road of contemporary art galleries in Downtown L.A.'s Chinatown. Regular hours are Wednesday through Saturday 12-6 pm, Sundays 12-4 pm and by appointment.
All gallery events are free and open to the public.