Adrien Blondel was born and grew up in normandy, France. He moved to Paris where he studied and graduated in history of cinema and cinematography. His first feature documentary film project brought him to the US, where he came back to live in San Francisco. Adrien works as a lighting technician and a camera operator for the film industry. He recently finished the shooting of his second feature documentary, set in a Maasai community in Kenya.
In search for more creative output than his work provides, Adrien started developing his photography practice a few years ago. His work is highly influenced by the experience of living abroad, and deals with memory, the notion of home and a cultural view of his surroundings.
The last Maasais
When out of their territories, Maasais identify each other through little details on the person, often times a bead bracelet or a missing front tooth. These serve as a form of identification, and can be seen as a beacon in a country where they find themselves the minority and see their land ownership being more and more contested.
Namuncha is a Maasai community in Kenya, it is located at the edge of the Maasai territory, and its members sometimes refer to themselves as the last Maasais. This little joke has a bitter sweet taste, bearing the ominous prophecy of their disappearance, the relegation of their traditions to something solely picturesque.
The community is involved in the preservation of the Maasai culture. They are building a Maasai cultural center within the village, and take great pride in performing their ceremonies. The Namuncha primary school dance group participates in nationwide traditional dance contests.
I first spent some time in Namuncha eight years ago, to provide images to serve for their increasing desire to welcome tourists in the community and participate in the country’s first economy. I gathered some footage and photographs. I went back in 2016 with the purpose to create a multimedia project including a feature length documentary and a photographic story. The aim of this project is to provide representation for the ordinary, the everyday, among a radically different culture, culture that is known in the world for its colorful and exotic traditions.
My project deals with the mundanities of Maasai life, with a culture that is shaped around their own concept of time. They are a chanting people living a quiet life, a fleeting culture under the pressure of globalization. The apparent peacefulness bears the presence of a struggle, a struggle rooted in history, culture and economics, a silent ongoing threat.
To view more of Adrien’s work please visit his website.