THIS IS US X GIDA: Saïda Augustine


In honor of International Women's Day, THIS IS US and GIDA Journal have teamed up to celebrate African female photographers through a self-portrait series "Through Her Lens,".

The photo series features a curated selection of self-portraits and introspections, each telling a unique story and reflecting on the individuality, strength, and resilience of the woman behind the lens.



Your work often explores themes of identity and representation, particularly in the context of Madagascar's colonial history. Can you share a specific moment or experience that has shaped your understanding of these themes and how they manifest in your photography?

I was born in Majunga, a port town in the north-west of Madagascar that has seen many migrations. I spent my childhood in a territory that was once colonized.

At the age of 10, my family and I were forced to move and emigrate to the island of Mayotte. Mayotte is still a French territory, although it has its own culture. Later we settled in France, the country of the former colonizers of Madagascar. My experience of moving between territories has given me an insight into issues of representation and self-identity.


You mentioned on your Instagram account that the question of whether Malagasy people identify as black or African has been a significant part of your personal journey. Can you elaborate on how this question has influenced your artistic vision and the stories you seek to tell through your photography?

I have always identified myself as Malagasy, African and black woman. Therefore, my African-ness and my black-ness have never been a problem in my quest for identity. However, I realised that most Malagasy people don't identify themselves as African or black after talking to Malagasy people and the Malagasy diaspora living in France. I then focused my research on the impact of colonization on the Malagasy people and their self-perception.


What impact do you hope your work will have on future generations as a Woman from Madagascar, in terms of fostering a more inclusive and accurate representation of Malagasy culture and identity?

When I started doing photography, my goal was to explore and understand the world around me and myself. Photography has not only allowed me to express myself, but has also been a tool for self-awareness. This self-awareness has led me to pursue various artistic projects that highlight the culture of my home country.

If my artistic approach resonates, challenges or even inspires other Malagasy women, then my work has already had a significant impact.



Your self portraiture work is heavily inspired by traditional Malagasy imagery of styled women. How important is style in your work when you are in front of the camera and when you are behind the camera?

Style is an expression of our self-identity. The way we dress says a lot about our personality. Style includes both practical and aesthetic aspects, such as the colour and shape of the garment, as well as intangible qualities. It is important to me both in front of and behind the camera.

5) Is there a difference between play and work for you? How do you draw the line and what would you say is the key to your success as an artist?
In my case, play and work go hand in hand; I can only work if what I am doing gives me a certain serenity, through a combination of intuition and pragmatism. Creating a framework helps you define boundaries and know where you're going.

Success for me is about expressing yourself through art in a way that is in tune with you and the world around you.



Saïda Augustine, an interdisciplinary artist born in Majunga, a port town in the northwest of Madagascar, explores questions related to human beings and their essence through her work. See more via her website and Instagram.


Saïda wears the Agbada dress in Shibori Print.