I & I is a publication that examines the Rastafari faith as it exists in contemporary Jamaica and how it’s expressed through Rasta elders, scholars, and a generation of young artists and activists. I & I is presented within a series of in-depth interviews, an essay by writer Anicée Gaddis, and an immersive photo portfolio by our mate Alessandro Simonetti. We hit up Ale for some insight on the project...
HEY ALE, WHAT’S HAPPENING?
Hi fellas! Here we are, I & I, a project I started under the umbrella of SMALL KINGS PRESS, a dynamic duo headed by Anicèe Gaddis and I; it’s a photo and writing team focusing on Jamaican and African derived subjects. We worked and explored, over the past seven years, many layers of the Island and focused on music, sport and dived deeply into the social texture of Jamaica.
THE BOOK IS A BEAUTIFUL THING. HOW DID THE PROJECT KICK OFF?
We have been working on I & I for the past two years; Anicèe, a writer based in NYC, first perceived the up coming new wave of this fresh blooded so called “Reggae Revival” artists, so we started to hang with them in order to document this key moment for Reggae history. With time we felt the necessity to go deeper and experience the subject of the music, the faith, as opposed to the music as subject. This consciousness in music was happening in parallel to Occupy Pinnacle, a movement that aims to preserve one of the first Rasta settlements which has been a real estate development “playground” for the past few years. Since then we shifted the attention to "not so under the light" people and places, and the result was a really personal journey, a small window into the Rastafarian today.
HAD YOU WORKED WITH ANICÉE BEFORE?
We’ve done three publications together: Small Kings, Lo I Am With You Alway and I & I. Also we’ve developed content for international magazines, brands and Jamaican musicians. Her way to write is immersive and visual and I love to pair my images, that with time are losing the necessity of “story telling” with a narrative or a text.
HOW MUCH TIME (AND MANY TRIPS) HAVE YOU SPENT ON THE ISLAND?
I’ve been traveling to Jamaica for a few years now, but this project required four, five trips in the past two years.
DO ANY PARTICULAR MOMENTS STAND OUT FROM YOUR TIME THERE, PEOPLE, SPOTS, SOUNDS?
Each moment and each subject had a special meaning since we were relating with them in a really intimate environment - nothing was staged or really planned. We really let this stir us and we just absorbed it with images and writing. Music was of course a recurrent theme in the whole trip. You really can’t avoid hearing reggae music in each one of the cabs you step in, or rum bars, or strip clubs!
INCREDIBLE SOUND SYSTEMS - HAVE YOU ADJUSTED YOUR HOME SETUP SINCE RETURNING?
I’m equipped well..
LAST ONE - ARE YOU PLANNING ANOTHER TRIP BACK ANYTIME SOON?
We are planning different trips in order to continue the project. Within a year we are going to release I & I REDUX which will have a new vest, art direction and contents developed in these upcoming visits to JA.
Limited stock of I & I is available in our publication section.