31 October 2012

Kara Walker | Complex Silhouettes

At first glance, Kara Walker's artwork may resemble illustrations of a children's fairytale. However Walker's art is complex and Walker is described as one of few who have been able to powerfully and provocatively address issues of race, sex, and the history of slavery.
As a result of her mesmerizing work, Kara Walker won a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" at 28 (one of the youngest-ever recipients), a spot on Time magazine's 100 Most Influential list, and exhibitions at some of the most respected museums in the US. 

30 October 2012

Film | United States of Africa

Directed and produced by Yanick Letourneau, United States of Africa: Beyond Hip Hop is a documentary that follows the journey of hip hop rapper Didier Awadi. Awadi travels through 40 countries on quest to create an album that pays tribute to revolutionary leaders and their shared dream of a united, independent Africa. The documentary draws the viewer into an artist's profound meditation on the power of music and the impact of political engagement - both individual and collective. It offers a picture of the past and a hopeful image of the future, using the languages of music and politics.

Watch the film trailer here:

For more on the film, visit United States of Africa.

Vogue Italia | The Black Allure

In its Feburary 2012 issue, Vogue Italia presented "Black Allure" by Emma Summerton, which was a 1920's/Harlem Renaissance era inspired photospread featuring finger waves, turbans, and cigarette holders. Gracing the spread were Ajak Deng, Chanel Iman, Arlenis Sosa Pena, Jourdan Dunn, Melodie Monrose, Lais Ribeiro, Rose Cordero, Mia Aminata Niarla, Sessilee Lopez, Joan Smalls, and Georgie Baddiel.

29 October 2012

Albert Watson | Visions feat. Cotton Made In Africa

Albert Watson is regarded as one of the world's most successful fashion and advertisement photographers. He is associated with unusual and powerful portraits with catch the eye due to their refined composition. Visions feat. Cotton Made In Africa is an exhibition that will be held at Haus der Photographie in Hamburg's Diechtorhallen from September 14, 2012 to January 6, 2013 in cooperation with the Aid by Trade Foundation.

Cotton made in Africa (CmiaA) is described as an organization that promotes the cultivation of sustainably produced cotton in Africa to improve the living conditions of 420,000 smallholder farmers currently active in the initiative. The work of Albert Watson provides insight into the worlds of the cotton farmers from Benin and promotes the work of CmiA.

The first images I saw of this photography project were of the two portraits above. Although I was intrigued by the aesthetic of the photographs, I hesitated to post it because I am careful to support work that provides a true and appropriate reflection of the communities portrayed. Despite the fact that I am not certain that the portrayal of the Benin farmers was 100% accurate, I appreciate the efforts to capture scenes of the city and of daily life. I am weary however, of the use of such images for marketing purposes by non-profit organizations, when it can often be very patronizing.

Watch the trailer below:

What are your thoughts on this photography project? Comment below.

Vietnam | The Past & Present

I am amazed by this work by Vietnamese photographer Khanh Hmoon which combines visuals from two eras by holding up a photo from the past in front of the same motif of present time. It is definitely a great way to see how much and how little things change over time. The theme of the passage of time is one that goes beyond country borders, and one that can be applied any any community worldwide. 

Images via CreativeRoots

Stella Jean | A/W 2012

I 'm fascinated by Stella Jean's A/W 2012 collection. Most of the clothing designs with African print that I have seen are quite similar and comparable. It's interesting to see the versatile incorporation of such prints in a fresh, new context. This style is described as one that is based on "wax and stripes philosophy" made of a social mosaic composition. I appreciate the designs. I could see myself wearing clothes like these on a daily basis, and I'm looking forward to building a wardrobe of them.

25 October 2012

"Awaiting" for Factice Magazine | African Inspired

Paula  & Symara Templeman featured in “Awaiting” for Factice Magazine #15.

Photography & creative direction by Agata Preyss, 

Fashion Stylist: Ihunna Eberendu, 
Make up Artist: Joy Adenuga, 
Hair Stylist: Dionne Smith 

19 October 2012

The Fade | Global Significance Of The Barbershop

Featured at the Austin Film Festival, The Fade is a fresh take on the shared global significance of the barbershop. The Fade creates an international dialogue of the lives of four barbers in Ghana, Jamaica, the US and the UK. Among them is Offori "Tupac" Mensah who works in Labadi, Accra. (Go, Ghana!) The film also features Pharrell Williams, Jay Sean, and Joe Budden.

Watch a preview of The Fade here: (Warning: Mild profanity)

18 October 2012

Portrait with 3,500 Lipsticks

For a show at Birzeit University, Palestinian artist Amer Shomali chose to create a portrait of Leila Khaled, the woman known as the "poster girl of Palestinian militancy." Unlike a typical portrait, Shomali's medium of choice for this project is lipstick. Rather than painting the iconic member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with paint or even drawing her image with lipstick, the artist uses a custom-built board on which fully intact tubes of lipsticks are affixed - 3,500 tubes, to be exact.
Using 14 different colours, Shomali has managed to recreate the famous image of the revolutionary woman wearing a kaffiyeh and holding an AK-47. Though it's not entirely clear why Khaled's pixelated portrait titled The Icon is made specifically out of lipstick, the piece is open to interpretations. One theory could be the intriguing and controversial juxtaposition of a powerful and independent woman with an item that is associated with frivolous materialism and femininity and how it parallels the contrasting image of Khaled herself, a woman adorned with a traditional Arad headdress typically worn by men while holding a destructive firearm.

Watch the time-lapsed video of the creation of the portrait:

[Words and Images via My Modern Met]

15 October 2012

Sartorial Swagger

A photospread entitled "Sartorial Swagger" featuing Olivier Geraghty in Shortlist Magazine.
Photographed by Rankin.

Inspiration Journal: Pierre-Antoine Vettorello

These pieces by Vettorello remind me of the hair-braiding artwork by Joanne Pief (images below). I especially like the mesh-like texture in the images above, and the head-crown on the left. Read my earlier post entitled Redressing the Crown: Joanne Pief | The Art of Braiding.

8 October 2012

Picture an Arab Man | Addressing Stereotypes with Photography

The portrait series, Picture an Arab Man, is a large body of work by Tamara Abdul Hadi, which captures Arab men of diverse backgrounds. The series aims to break down stereotypes of Arab men by highlighting the sensual beauty of the Arab man. This is described as an unexplored aspect of their identity on the cusp of change in a society that reveres an out-dated form of hyper-masculinity.
The series features men in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Dubai, Palestine, and Canada including some from Iraq, Sudan, and Syria. In March 2012, photographer Tamara Abdul Hadi started a successful fundraising campaign to support the next stage of the project. The funds would cover general expenses and go towards the printing of a book. Tamara's use of photography to represent her subjects as diverse, candid men solely with their rich Middle Eastern heritage in common has truly and understandably resonated with many.

View photos from the series and hear more from her in the video below.

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