The Death Of Dishonest Abdel
by Jahmal Nugent
On February 16th I was given an opportunity to work alongside Koffler Gallery and assist Moroccan, Montreal based artist 2Fik to create an artwork onsite during An Honest Farewell, a four day city festival at Honest Ed’s. The concept of 2Fik’s project was to reimagine and recreate Benjamin West’s neoclassical painting, The Death of General Wolfe, with 2Fik posing and performing as all fifteen characters depicted in the original painting.
My role in all of this was production assistant, and I was given the task of overseeing and ensuring the quality of every photo. At first, it seemed like a simple enough task but I soon realized it was a much more difficult than I had thought. The camera had to be perfectly still, and even the slightest movement of either the tripod or the camera would compromise the photo and performance. A lot was at stake, primarily because 2Fik had a limited amount of time to change costumes and transform into each character–which involved shaving his beard in real time, which he had grown for the purpose of this performance over the course of a year–an error or flaw in any of his photographs would be very difficult, if not impossible to fix in post production. Also, due to the limitation and design of the camera’s autofocus system, automatically programming the focus was not an option, meaning I had to actually touch the camera before each shot to manually adjust the focus ring on the lens. This was a lot of pressure and I was fairly nervous but as time went by I slowly became more comfortable and was able to accurately produce a clear, focused image.
Being able to work with Koffler Gallery and 2Fik was such an amazing experience. Originally, I thought this would be a one time small job that I did to save up for a camera but, instead, I left set that day with so much knowledge and inspiration. I was amazed with all the preparation that went into what seemed at first like an ordinary photoshoot. I was also surprised at the amount of stress 2Fik endured physically and mentally, from the constant interruptions of people walking into the shoot, to the very difficult process of creating and performing each of his fifteen, unique characters.
I personally have a huge passion for photography and everything that concerns it. I’m interested in and gravitate towards photographic portraits, landscapes, street, studio, and creative photography as well. I hope to someday go to formally study photography and to make it my career. Since 2Fik’s performance with Koffler Gallery at Honest Ed’s I have been putting more time, effort and detail into my work. Something that I originally considered as just a simple gig to make a bit of money turned out to be such great learning experience.
Jahmal Nugent is a photographer and the current artist in residence at SKETCH Toronto.