Photo Collaboration: Sham and Al
 

One winter day near NYU, artists Shamshawan Scott and Alexa Mareka sit down to chat collaboration, friendship, and colors.

 

Al: Hi Sham!

Sham: What’s up Al? How are you today?

A: I’m good. I ate a lot of candy and my stomach hurts really bad.

S: Oh I feel that. I helped my Grandma today. I got done with some spreadsheets some schedules. Life keeps going and you can’t stop…but you know what you can stop in life is pictures!

A: Yes!

S: What is it like to collaborate with a friend?

A: In comparison to working with a stranger, it’s more fun, more chill. There isn’t a lot of planning. For us, it just happened and it was cool.

S: Exactly. Working with friends leads to a more flexible shoot in the end. The feeling is really nice and more familiar. It’s a cool thing. My friends inspire me a lot — you inspire me. My inspirations are people and color and music and movies. That’s the quad in my inspiration square. The colors I gravitate towards more in shoots are primary colors.

A: I love primary colors. Good shit. I’ve been gravitating towards are warm colors — reds and oranges. Or bright yellow is always a color that I like.

S: Yellow to me is such a freeing color. It’s so positive; it has this energy when you look at it. It’s more forceful like, “Yo! Stop looking at the dark and look at me!” Yellow is definitely at the top of the list now.

A: Yellow is fun. I think yellow has been inspiring me lately because I’ve been really into retro-futurism.

S: Oh, yes! I love retro futurism. What are your favorite things about retro-futurism?

A: I love the style of it — how everything seems very shiny. I’m really into those retro-futuristic old Japanese TV shows with people in space suits.

S: The colors are so nice. I am actually doing a shoot inspired by retro-futurism for a collection by a friend of mine. He is inspired by a lot of retro-futurism and stuff that can be manipulated with time. So he wanted to base it around that and have a lot of props. I'm gonna do some set design for it. I love cartoons — cartoons are always an inspiration.

A: Love that. It takes a lot of effort and work. I was just at the animation department at Tisch today and I was at this room where they storyboard. They hand-draw this stuff and then they make it and put in on a screen.

S: Dude! Adventure Time—[I love] the way they draw their settings and the colors that they use. I’m big on set design so when I see that stuff I’m just like, “Yo, I need to make something like this.” I’m always inspired by that and the music in it. What music have you been listening to lately? And also what was playing in your ears when we collaborated?

A: Right now I’m listening to two things frequently...

S: Mitski?

A: No actually! I mean, I still listen to her like every day of my life. But right now on repeat are two things. I started watching Cowboy Bebop and found this playlist on Spotify that’s inspired by it and it’s really good.

S: You have! I just started watching Cowboy Bebop.

A: I love the music in it. It’s very funky.

S: That’s what i was telling you about! The old school Japanese funk—it’s in those anime. The music in the Japanese shows and how Japan just had fun in the 70s. It’s so amazing.

A: So I’ve been listening to that as I walk around...or the Black Panther soundtrack.

S: Yes the Black Panther soundtrack obviously! The best soundtrack out right now.

A: It’s so good

S: It’s really good and it’s crazy how they were like, “Kendrick, go ahead and score this bro,” and he was like, “Alright, I’ll make a masterpiece.” He’s such a genius man.

A: Yeah I usually hate soundtracks based off of movies—when they have artists come in and make songs based off of it it’s usually shit, but this one’s not. What’s your favorite song from it?

S: The first song — “Black Panther” — I wanna say something that’s not so typical...

A: But it’s valid!

S: I’ve only listened to it all the way through once but you know what ima listen to it again and ima come back to you guys with my top three. What’s your favorite?

A: I’ve been listening to “Opps” a lot because it makes me feel like I’m in a club and I’m about to get killed or something.

S: Soundtracks are amazing. They’re a big inspiration for my work. Oh and I’m doing a series called people in their favorite jackets. I have to do that with you and everyone who has a favorite jacket.

A: Yeah! I do. I do have a favorite jacket.

S: Everyone has a favorite jacket. A jacket you feel like no one can touch you in. I tried to do research on humans and why they have favorite things. I tried to go all the way back to babies and their attachment to blankets. I’m really trying to find why we have a favorite. Why does it have to be a favorite and why does favoritism exist. I love jackets! Jackets are amazing. Without jackets what would you have to keep you warm.

A: Nothing! I’m happy I'm wearing a jacket right now. Cause I’m cold.

S: I don't even know what to name the series. I was going to name it Sandcastles or Blanket.

A: Oh Sandcastles is fun! It’ll be cool to see what everyone’s jackets look like.

S: By the way have we collaborated before?

A: I don’t think so.

S: So this was our first collaboration. There you go DRØME. That’s our first collaboration and you see how it is: Fire!

A: We’ll do it again.

 

In the making of DRØME we hope to showcase a community of doers and nourish an attitude of empathy in a world that teaches us to pass judgment rather than practice kindness. The stories, images, and people shared in this magazine are an amalgamation of perspectives often overlooked or explicitly excluded from art and media worlds. The dearth of diverse identities and viewpoints within the arts is harrowing, especially for a young generation that is fighting its hardest to overcome conservative notions of order ultimately practiced as acts of discrimination against the very people and things we find most inspiring. In DRØME, the featured creators and creations encourage us to never shy away from who we are and what we want. Each artist, in sharing their story, embodies their own definition of agency. Against a mainstream ideology that indoctrinates patriarchal, capitalist, and hateful theories turned into policy, the artists in our first issue represent the ways in which art can take power back from society's denigrating control.