The Essen based photographer and artist Sascha Kraus puts the human being at the heart of his works. Commonly, he draws the attention to social shortcomings, but does so without aggressively sweeping the moral cudgel. Subtly but unmistakeably he achieved this goal again in his latest project published as a book: FORTHRIGHT – Stronger than a weapon.
As a matter of fact, in a trial the book stood up to direct fire by means of a handgun, but the title does hint at the content rather than on the physical strength of the cased volume. This is because the portrayed rap artists in it use the power of words to accuse and to enlighten. Being interprets of Conscious Rap, they take the nonviolent way to address deficiencies and oppression and to encourage.
Animated by a report on television and driven by his own passion for rap music between 2010 and 2016 Kraus visited altogether 43 artists in 13 countries on four continents. Whether in Cambodia, Burma or South Sudan, in Senegal or Brasilia: they all deal with the partly precarious situations regarding politics and human rights in their home countries. Kraus introduces them using photographs and interviews.
For example, one of them is Zayar Thaw who became famous with his band Acid in Burma in 2000. Due to his commitment to democracy the Burmese regime made him stay in prison for several years. In 2012, he was voted together with Aung San Suu Kyi into the Burmese parliament and is regarded there as the voice of the youth.
The Senegalese Sister Fa is one of four female artists in Kraus’ book and is also not only active as a musician. She represents the perspective of women in the male-dominated rap genre and uses her popularity to fight against female genital mutilation. She has already spoken about this issue in front of the UN.
The short introduction to these two rappers reveals the importance of content in their songs, in which value is to be measured beyond the mere musical. At the same time, the lyrics are mirror and medium of the political engagement emanated from the 43 artists portrayed in the elaborately produced book.
150 of the 1000 self-published volumes are special editions containing a vinyl record with selected songs of the discussed interprets. All depicted photographs are developed analogously and reproduced via offset print.