In 2015 I received an email from my immigration attorney asking me if I was ready to file for American citizenship. I soon realized I didn’t know if I was ready to become an American citizen. What did that even mean? Was this who I was now: a potential American? I knew I was ready to be called a New Yorker, but an American?
I took time to think about it, wondering if I would fit in, wondering if this is where my heart was. A year later I still had my doubts so I decided to take to the road, to go meet the rest of the country, to go meet the Americans and to understand what it meant to be an American.
Over the course of 4 months, I drove an estimated 15,000 miles across the U.S which led me to meet over 100 people with my camera. I was welcomed everywhere and people were eager to help me with my project.
My doubts about fitting in as an American faded pretty fast and instead, a sense of belonging grew in me. Of course I fitted in, I was in a country built by people who immigrated from all over the world.
I am now an American citizen and was able to vote in the last election which followed with a travel ban pointing to immigration as being a threat to the country. Our diversity is for me the core of the beauty of the American identity and the main reason why I joined. It is time to celebrate this unique identity and diversity as a strength which is now more important than ever through 'We The People'.
‘WE THE PEOPLE’ is a photographic album of Americans from all paths, background, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, social class, political affiliation and sexual orientation.
Every person I approached to photograph was totally empowered to decide where and how their portrait will be taken with very minimum direction. My goal was to capture each individual and document their story.
The aim of this conceptual piece is not to create yet another collection of individual biographies, but to sketch out the outlines of a national biography of the American identity by making the portraits anonymous.
Visually, the work is meant to be built into a conceptual photography project as photo cards and a fold-out map tracing the journey I took, the stories and the visual documentation of the people I met along my path all the while asking who are the Americans?
The photo cards will not have names, nor their individual stories attached, it will be up to the viewer to interact with the images and make their own connections to ask what is the American identity by sorting and choosing portraits and story cards separately.
Each subject photographed was fully committed to be part of the statement celebrating diversity: that engagement became the central pivot on which the interactivity of this project was built. I now further ask the viewer the same question, who is an American?
As it stands, we are ready to move this project into the stages of production. Thus far the project has been self funded and the cost to produce a small collection of the work into a final package is beyond my means.
I am hopeful that the reality of the final product could extend beyond a creative consumer but into the hands of youth and educational institutions empowering unity and acceptance as the foundation of our Nation.
Please help me make this project a reality!
- The funds raised will be dedicated to pay for a designer and to cover the printing and the production costs turning this concept into a physical package that once distributed will support further growth of this project.
- I am looking to create an American product to support the concept of the project: photographed, designed and published in the USA.
Designer: Bonnie Briant has worked with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Documentary Center, Aperture, Damiani, Rizzoli and Powerhouse. Her work has been recognized numerous times by the PDN photo annual awards and Aperture/Paris photo's book awards.
Publisher: Red Hook Editions are a new model publishing community formed by photographers who believe in creating high-quality books while empowering artistic and editorial decisions to themselves.
- The piece will include about 75 loose cards of portraits, landscapes and quotes collected into a box that will unfold as a map tracing the places I stopped during my trip which will also be paired with a leaflet retracing stories of my journey. We are looking to create an inventive and simple design.
- We are hopeful to produce 1000 copies to be released in Spring 2018.
- If we exceed $35,000 we will increase the print run and make more pieces available.
- If we exceed $50,000 we will produce a conceptual interactive traveling exhibition that will take the project to institutions and museums across the country.
All the proceeds of the sales will go toward developing a trans media 'WE THE PEOPLE' project including an interactive web presence.
Who is Myriam?
Myriam Abdelaziz is a French/American photographer born in Cairo, Egypt. Her career started in the corporate marketing world before deciding to change gear to pursue a profession in Photography, her long lifetime passion.
Myriam graduated from the International Center of Photography in 2006 and has been based in New York City since.
She was named by the Magenta Foundation one of the 25 Emerging Photographers in the USA in 2009 and in 2011 and is a winner of the Lens Culture Emerging Talent prize, American Photography #24, La Bourse du Talent and PhotoEspana as well as being recently nominated for the Pictet Prize in 2016 and 2017.
Myriam’s work tells the stories of its participants. Her inquiry into the tales of people takes her around the globe searching for narratives that overcome physical and cultural barriers and often reveals what we have all in common: glimpses of solitude, hope, insecurity, dignity. Her work captures moments where something inner is revealed.
Her photographs have been published in magazines such as American Photography, Fortune Magazine, Newsweek, Time Magazine, Smithsonian, Le Monde, Liberation, Courrier International, Marie-Claire, Eyemazing and the British Journal of Photography among others as well as featured in various solo and group exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East and the USA, including the Arab Photography Biennale at the Arab Institute of Paris. They are also included in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Agence Française de Développement and the Southeast Museum of Photography.
Risks and Challenges
If we succeed in raising the money to produce ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ we don't anticipate major challenges. The usual major risks when publishing an artist book is the possibility of delay, but with the very generous production timeframe allocated to production, we feel comfortable that theses challenges will be greatly minimized and we are confident this project will move forward on schedule.
The images, the people’s quotes and the text retracing my journey are ready to be edited. The designer and the printer have been identified and are eager to start working: everything is now ready to roll!
We do expect to meet our commitments to backers without difficulty.