"African art is functional, it serves a purpose. It's not a dormant. It's not a means to collect the largest cheering section. It should be healing, a source a joy. Spreading positive vibrations" - Mos Def
Earlier on this month Nigeria celebrated their 58 year of independence. As a country that has had a long and rich tradition of vast artistic archives predeceasing slavery and colonialism, Nigerian art has transcended into new mediums today. In addition to creating a vibrant aesthetic without traditional training in photography, African artists like Seydou Keita also known as the Father of Modern Photography, played a significant role in redefining the African experience in developing cities during the colonial era. He would use African textiles as backdrops, buy props that he would allow his clients to use, and most importantly capture traditional African aesthetics through clothing, jewelry and hair, while incorporating Eurocentric influences that had derived from colonial contact (telephones, radios and etc). Challenging his predecessors who had photographed Africans for eurocentric purposes: to encourage missionary work or justify colonization, Keita portrayed his fellow Malians as ordinary, cultural humans living in the vibrant city of Bamako.
Decades later on the other side of the world, as migrant African migrant communities grow, a new generation of African artists and storytellers are finding new ways to reflect on their identity: What does it mean to be a child of the Nigerian diaspora living in the United Kingdom or the United States? Two parts of the world that played a significant role in the displacement of African bodies from the continent? How can you engage with black politics and dual identity in these spaces through an artistic lens?
A young Nigerian cultural curator by the name of Olive Chisomebi Uche offered us a perspective in her latest project One Nigeria where she pays homage to Nigerian life and culture through a vibrant music video and series of photos. In her work, you can closely tell the influence of early pioneering African photographers like Solomon Alonge, Okhai Ojeikere and Jonathan Adagogo. You can also see the strength of community outside of the continent as she collaborates with ground breaking Nigerian creatives.
The One Nigeria Creative Team:
Creative Director: @oliveuche
Photographer + Set Design: @doseofdots
Styling: @tolucoye and @habibatj
Models: @modelvoss @oyite.a @deeofalltrades @o.ewola @chuksxn @uyiooo
Gele/Head Tie: @olori_allure
The photos captured young Nigerian women and men in very softly colored textiles,indigenous Nigerian beaded jewelry, vintage inspired leather shoes and bags, velvet and richly patterned kufis, and for the ladies, traditional Nigerian threaded hairstyles and beautifully tied geles. The video captured these artists in 70s inspired fashion as they danced danced happy, carefree and passionately. This project was beautifully executed, and allows us to see the perseverance and appreciation of culture outside of the continent.
Brand ambassador Chuks also rocked one of our Ezege Beaded Necklaces & our Velvet Cap in Black!