The reason Aidan Zamiri’s intriguing work continues to cut through the noise of imagery online is the same reason he picked up a camera in the first place. “The reason I make videos and take photos is because I love people, stories and things that are funny,” the London-based, Glasgow-raised photographer and filmmaker says.
Besides shooting a series of 2020 Dazed 100 talent (including himself) for our Spring Summer issue, Zamiri has shot a Vivienne Westwood campaign, worked with FKA twigs and Slowthai, and collaborated with Nike, Mowalola, and Paolina Russo. The ingredients of his visual world – one of 90s iconography, present-day memes and glitchy VHS-thetics – playfully undercut the seriousness of his approach. But more than just get ahead, Zamiri wants to unpack his generation’s obsession with self-image (and screen time).
“I’m really interested in the idea of identity and persona – and exploring what it means to be honest and self-aware in a world where ‘performing’ is a kind of default state of being,” he describes. Even better, Zamiri’s multidisciplinary approach never leaves out his sense of humour, even one that might take a second look at the image to really sink in. “I have so much fun with my work,” he says. “And, ultimately, I hope other people can find joy in it as well.”
How is your work unique to you, or informed by your perspective, experiences, or identity?
Aidan Zamiri: My identity has definitely been formed in a very Gen Z way. I come from a mixed-race family and, having grown up online, I don’t have much of a sense of being from somewhere. Like a lot of people my age, I have so much access to so much content all the time that I have this eclectic muddle of stuff in my brain that I feel sentimental about. (This is what) creates this weird feeling of nostalgia for things that I haven’t necessarily experienced myself or don’t even fully understand. The things I watched, listened to or became obsessed with when I was a teenager have really shaped my approach to my work now: video games, YouTube videos, music videos and imagery from different eras. Ultimately, I try to do everything with a bit of a sense of humour and I’ve always been desperate to understand how everything works and experience everything I possibly can.
“The things I watched, listened to or became obsessed with when I was a teenager have really shaped my approach to my work now: video games, YouTube videos, music videos and imagery from different eras” – Aidan Zamiri
What or who gives you hope and why?
Aidan Zamiri: Teenagers are funnier now than they ever have been. My screen time on my iPhone has gone up by like 500 per cent because I now spend entire days on TikTok. Meme culture and our collective consciousness/sense of humour just keeps getting more sophisticated, weird, abstract and hilarious. I’m really excited to see what kids and teenagers are gonna create in the future because so many of them are already so creative and making such exciting, intelligent stuff with whatever means they have.
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Aidan Zamiri: I’ve had this short film idea on the back burner for a long time so I’d love to finally be able to make it. It’d be funny, clever, and really authentic to me. I wish I could give more away – but honestly, it’s a secret.