When people think of Jamaica, sea, sun and pina cocktails & spliff come to mind. Peter Dean Rickards specializes in capturing the other side of the island’s life. His groundbreaking style brought an energetic ferocity to local photography that quickly made him both the go to photographer for models looking for irreverent editorial as well as a noted troublemaker to local politicians and businessmen.
Unconventional characters, violence and the raw energy of the street were at the heart of his 1999 web movement Afflicted Yard;
Pete introduced the world to images that gave a new voice to the dark underbelly of Jamaican society…. Here’s a PG excerpt from what turned into a two day conversation on Skype:
Peter Dean Rickards is a founder and Editor of First Magazine and creator of The Afflicted Yard.He’s also a photographer and occasionally has been known to write. He’s based in Kingston, Jamaica and is likely to stay there until he is surprised at his gate by gunmen who shoot him and steal his cellphone.
rb: how would you sum yourself up.. are you Peter an artist? a terrorist? a badman? anarchist?
pd: i guess i’m some sort of artist…i’ve come to accept that tho i tried to do otherwise i used to draw a lot…then that turned into calling people on the radio and blurting out stuff…and then the internet came along and i could do all those things at once..i’m no badman or terrorist…i’m a class clown who did a website a few years ago with some images of people holding old guns…. i wanted to be a writer first….thats what I really am….a really really lazy writer …in fact thats how the whole afflicted name came about…
when i was trapped in the UK a few years ago…i was sending my writing to editors hoping to get a job and the email i used was firstname.lastname@example.org. it was seen by a guy named Michael Eboda who was then the editor of the New Nation..and he gave me a column called ”afflicted: the true tales of a yardie troublemaker in london” i was in my mid 20s then….i was living in a condemned house in a shithole called Plumstead.. i used a blow dryer hooked up to the next door neighbour’s power supply to warm up the room a bit….interesting days those.. i have a love/hate relationship with the uk…
i suppose the fact that my work has always had something to do with jamaica has had drawn the attention of people who see the country as one thing: a violent place filled with anti gay dancehall artists….but i think thats part of the humour jamaicans have. it’s
like….theres no control over news media….and we know its going to get spun in ignorant ways… so instead of crying foul… we scream stuff a little louder
RB: why do you think we don’t cry foul? do you think we (the people) like our dangerous image?
PD: course we like it…its funny…and we play up on it …you would be surprised how far people can get by living up to urban myths
stills from an apartment in the Tivoli neighbourhood in downtown Kingston, shortly after it was sprayed with gunfire in a planned hit (yes it’s a real grenade & yes those are brains)
“fashion ova style”
breast milk (yes, this is real. no this guy has probably not seen the video)