Haris Nukem’s photography satirises the ideologies of the 21st century

Breaking down Gen Z one shot at a time...

“Once upon a time, there was this mythical era where everyone believed the same thing, had the same virtues and thought about the same stuff. Good was good, bad was bad, and that was that. As time changed everything becomes less and less secular, and we start detribalising. I think right now we’re seeing a time of polar opposites; people are falling out over pretty basic shit. It’s a shame.”

From social media to romantic tendencies, Haris Nukem’s photography deconstructs the ideologies surrounding our 21st-century world. Based now in North London, Nukem entered the UK as a child asylum seeker, an experience he now credits his creativity and unique perspective to. “I’m from a place where shit things happened; there was social distress to the point of breaking out into war. I didn’t live through that,” Haris explained, “but I was saved from it.”

In his new body of work, entitled FAITH, Haris Nukem explores the shifts of reality our universe has seen, encompassing “social media connectivity, the limitations and liberations of the curated self, the fragility of public services and touches on relevant concerns hedonism, trolls and tribalism.”

Haris Nukem explained: “FAITH is a study of the characters of today. What we see as our own meaning.” We talked to the vibrant photographer to hear some of the inner musings behind four of his new works, read them in his own words below now…

We Need Heroes

The over-romanticising of romantic love as heroism

“Backstage, a showgirl gleans lessons from her fearless predecessors. Stood among symbols of heroic greats, she weighs the road to “magnificence”. From Biblical icons of self-sacrifice, to celebrity vigilantes who hide in plain sight, We Need Heroes contemplates the changing faces of heroism. Far from the holy martyrdom of biblical figures like Jesus and Joan, the grace of modern heroes disguises itself in the shadows of a materialist world. Like the film set which tiptoes at the frame’s edges, the truth of our glory is only ever our own.”

21st Century Romance

On apps / homogenisation of culture

“An age of communication and technological freedom has forged a new shape of love. 21st Century Romance paints a tapestry of contemporary union, liberated by intimate lifestyle apps and a one-click economy. On a diet of on-demand food and entertainment, lovers blossom on a soft bed of ready-made courtship and couch nostalgia. In search for peace, we trade daily chaos for small comforts and domestic tranquility, where our love can grow unconditionally.”


About drug / club culture

“Today, the search for oneness moves to a rhythm of bass frequencies and ‘drop’-happy neon parades. Drifting on a cosmic wave, a generation of candy-coloured ravers search for self-discovery, fuelled by the sweet highs of Molly, or the warm lap of a Xanax haze. Since 2010 pill-popping in the US has been romanticised by rap lyricism and the open-arms of EDM. But at its heart, commerce-hungry promoters and cheap drug manufacture pave the road to ecstasy with a heady mix of rainbows and risk. The pursuit of unity can be filled with great wonder, but in the hands of an industry, this path can be bittersweet.”

Cold & Timid

About social media and trolls

“Inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech, Nukem depicts the scornful provocateur, whose resolve is spent on judgement. Employing an arsenal of critique, the cold and timid cast darkness over others, without the courage for their own improvement. Without visions of betterment we dismantle our futures. Knowing not of perserverance, the troll’s cry falls futile among the bright light of dreamers.”

2 October 2019