KITIHAWA'S CHANDELIER By Nicolas Henry
All cultures are different, but humanity is a single community, sharing values, a past and future. All people are different, and this is a strength for all societies, for creativity and innovation. There are seven billion ways of ‘being human,’ but we stand together as members of the same family, all different, all equally seeking respect for rights and dignity.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization
UNESCO’s message is a driving force behind Nicolas Henry's signature visual language and approach to storytelling. Combining community engagement with photography, theatre technique, cinematic lighting and handmade prop and set design, Henry creates photographic tales that blur the lines between fiction and reality.
Kitihawa's Chandelier is a photographic tale that presents 53 images and texts created with communities in the Americas, France and Africa. The story honors the beauty, strength and courage of men, women and children in the face of adversity and references major historical events, some with long-term impacts that continue to be felt today. Henry’s narrative, thoughtfully crafted and researched, is significant. Through magical imagery and informative texts that value history and cultural diversity, Henry aims to instill compassion among viewers and provide a means to inspire change.
Kitihawa's Chandelier provided a creative platform for participating individuals to exchange thoughts, address challenges facing their communities, and express their hopes and ideas for the future.
This project was made possible with the generous support and participation of organizations in America, France, Brazil and Africa including:
Nicolas Henry (b.1978) is an award-winning French photographer who is known for creating participatory works that reveal the personal and collective stories of communities from around the world. A graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris, Henry trained in film at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Design in Vancouver. He pursued a career as a lighting and set designer in the music, contemporary dance and theater fields, before traveling the world for three years as film director for the project 6 Billion Others, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Henry became artistic director for the exhibition presented at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2009.
Part of Kitihawa's Chandelier premiered at the DuSable Museum of African American History from May 2017 to April 2018, with major support provided by the DuSable Museum, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, connecting the state with art through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Significant support was provided by SJ Gray Law LLC, Runner Collective, Cream Wine Company, Skoog Productions and Vikki. Generous support was provided by Susan Starrett and Lawrence Jones.
Henry then produced The Playhouses of our Grandparents, a global project and publication (Editions ActesSud, 2011) presenting 400 unique portraits of seniors, all photographed in imaginary playhouses reminiscent of their childhood. Most recently, Henry created The Adventures of Supershaktimaan, the Hindu version of Superman that presents an impossible love story between a Hindu hero and a beautiful Muslim young woman called Shamina, set against a backdrop of splendid colors and scenes from India to Morocco. The narrative tackles notions of tolerance and going beyond religious divide and explores the virtues of spirituality. www.nicolashenry.com