The Collaborators: Rafael Pavarotti And Ib Kamara
They say no man is an island, and the same can be said when it comes to creativity. When bringing an idea to life, the key to success often lies in the hands of a few key collaborators - those trusted voices and fellow artists who together create a vision greater than the sum of their parts. Keen to explore such relationships, we’ve launched “The Collaborators”, a series which examines the creative ties between our favourite artists and their preferred partners in creativity.
Here we speak to Ib Kamara and photographer Rafael Pavarotti, whose work together has produced some of the most innovative and extraordinary fashion imagery in recent years. Here, they tell us more.
Courtesy of Rafael Pavarotti/ i-D Magazine (2019)
How did you two first meet?
Rafael: Ib sent me a message on Instagram inviting me to go to Ghana with him to shoot a story.
Ib: I met Rafael on Instagram and we eventually met in the Belem Amazon when I went to meet him to do a story for i-D and Double Magazine.
What is it about the other’s work that caught your eye?
Rafael: The first thing I saw was his capacity to communicate using clothes and use every single possible styling detail to bring attention to Black and racialized bodies. How he positioned those bodies as they truly are: members of royalty.
Ib: Rafael celebrates beauty, spirituality and diversity in his work. I am blown away by how much love goes into his work.
When was your first collaboration?
Rafael: It was July of 2019 on that trip to shoot for i-D and Double.
Ib: We had a beautiful experience in the Amazon.
How did you go about executing it?
Rafael: We started by planning everything three months beforehand. We dived deep into our Black and indigenous culture. It was made at home, with all my family helping in the process. It was the first shoot I’ve made at home 10 years after leaving Amazonia, and so it was a very spiritual process. We had my mom in the shoot, the neighbours that helped to raise me, childhood friends. All our community was a part of the process, both in front of and behind the cameras.
Ib: It was pretty much DIY. We had very little to work with but it was fun. Rafael cast friends and young people he grew up with and we took it from there.
Courtesy of Rafael Pavarotti/ Double Magazine (2019)
What was the mission behind it and how did you bring together your skills?
Rafael: When we thought about this job we had on our minds the political situation in Brazil. We were thinking about utopia, Black and indigenous bodies, and having these bodies as protagonists of their own narratives. In a position of power, war, prophecies, childhood and love. Since the beginning we shared a connection not only at work but in life. We shared about life, heritage and the will to create and become a part of this place and narrative.
Ib: It was to celebrate the Amazon and I hope we did it justice.
What are the things you have in common?
Rafael: We have a real love for the things we create, and the will to bring these messages to our community and to the world. It takes a lot of responsibility and it’s beautiful to be able to share this with him - to build and bring forth a legacy for the next generation. Plus, we’re both Geminis!
Are there any areas in which you differ?
Rafael: We never think about that.
Ib: I think we are very similar maybe because we’re both Geminis. I think the only difference is that he is from the Amazon and I am from Sierra Leone, but I feel that’s what unites us.
How does this help the creative relationship?
Rafael: We always find a solution for the things we want to make and ways to make our creative relationship better each time.
Ib: It really helps that we have an understanding of each other’s experience.
When collaborating with someone, what are the most important factors to keep in mind?
Rafael: At this point it’s more about the connection between me and the other person, because the exchange between our minds and ideas tends to hugely influence the final work.
Ib: I look for love and passion in the work and someone willing to give their all to tell a story. Someone nice, patient, kind and respectful of the story and what we are doing.
What makes your collaboration such a successful one?
Rafael: The interpersonal relationship, the admiration we have for each other, the social mission, the will to change the structures and to shape our dreams within reality.
Ib: We also both give our all with each story’s background research.
Courtesy of Rafael Pavarotti/ Double Magazine (2019)
Where do you look for inspiration?
Rafael: IRL, URL and BLM.
Ib: From everywhere. Culture, history, people, religion, my crazy dreams.
Whose work or legacy do you aspire to?
Rafael: I’m my own legacy.
Ib: The work of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Toni Morrison. They both created work that stands the test of time and went out of their way to create new realities.
What are the qualities you most value or admire in one another?
Rafael: His laugh, the way that he is so generous with others and life. Seeing the inspirational being that he is.
Ib: Work ethic, passion, love for people and kindness.
What would be your dream project to work on together?
Rafael: We are in the process of making it happen.
Ib: Travelling the world and making work.
Left: Courtesy of Rafael Pavarotti/ i-D Magazine (2019)
Right: Courtesy of Rafael Pavarotti/ Double Magazine (2019)
All images shot by Rafael Pavarotti and styled by Ib Kamara
Interview by Georgia Graham