Iggy Ldn is a progressive, forward-thinking artist. His earlier films Fatherhood and Black Boys Don’t Cry challenged preconceptions of masculinity in the hope to combat pervasive black male stereotypes. But for his third venture, Silk, Iggy looked back to the jazz era for inspiration. “I think of it as a time where people weren’t so aware of themselves; their appearance and behaviours were less calculated and they were more natural in their self-expression,” Iggy tells It’s Nice That. His latest film is an unapologetic reminder to appreciate the present moment during a time of Instagram likes and Snapchat stories. It captures a young black man dressed in various impeccable outfits against a backdrop of draping, white silk and is accompanied by a series of striking photographs
The 23-year old east London director has been covered by a number of esteemed magazines including Fader, Dazed and iD, has been featured in Channel 4 and lectured at universities like UAL and UCL. But a career in film wasn’t always on the cards for Iggy. “I really enjoyed telling stories and I started writing poetry at university. I wanted to take storytelling to a different medium after writing the poem Black Boys’ Don’t Cry, so I adapted it into a film. I found the process of making a film really interesting as it allowed me to dictate how my audience engaged visually with my creative ideas. It was through this that I realised how much I enjoyed directing; creating cool imagery in a powerful and responsive way,” Iggy says. His use of unexpected symbolism is particularly poignant in Silk, where the luxury fabric can be perceived as a metaphor for personal development; a delicate fabric that becomes strong when strands are weaved together.
“Silk is a response to our current social climate. Culturally, we are beginning to understand the importance of exploring new narratives, but I think there is something to be learnt from old ones too. I wanted to create a project that encourages us to not only celebrate past eras but also to reclaim them in a new form. Silk reclaims the essence of the jazz era by transporting it into the 21st century. The 60s was a time where jazz was embedded in contemporary culture. By looking back at the era’s key influences, I focused on certain attitudes that I thought we needed to be reminded of now,” Iggy explains. The rise of Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have altered our self-perceptions; we now see ourselves through premeditated lenses with the prospect of likes at the back of our minds at every social event. “Silk is the celebration of the 21st-century man seeing himself for himself” rather than through social media’s repressive gaze.
“I think fashion, music and popular culture have a tendency to turn masculinity into an unrealistic benchmark, one that many men can’t relate to or celebrate as being something they have. I think we should celebrate a greater variety of representation and draw on things that help us to understand one another. This will allow us to not only facilitate our own emotions but also have a better understanding of gender politics in general. I don’t think stereotypical ideas of masculinity have a place in our current social climate.”
His use of a handheld camcorder taught Iggy the importance of a strong concept; Silk is a series of powerful impressions rather than a linear, teleological narrative. The handheld – at times unsteady – recording device only adds to the overall effect. It gives the viewer an intimate, and affectionate insight into the man behind the lens. Stylist Rhona Ezuma and photographer Alice Mann had a big part to play in Silk’s masterful execution, offering the young director alternative perspectives.
“We are living in such an unprecedented time with the advancement of technology, political events, and rising social tension. I think that the younger generation has been pivotal in offering new ideas in the way we see these issues and finding ways too approach them. We’re taking ownership of tricky topics and are able to find ways to explain them through creative media. I am really proud of what we are doing and I can’t wait to see more of the younger generation using their silks to create powerful content and social change.”
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