Thursday, July 18, 2024

NYC Holds Exhibition Highlighting Modern African Fashion

In June, the Brooklyn Museum will host Africa Fashion, the largest exhibition of its kind in North America. The exhibition will celebrate the creativity of African fashion from the beginning of the independence era to the present day.

With over 180 works, Africa Fashion will also show how prominent mid-20th-century designers and artists laid the foundation for today’s fashion revolution. Exhibition categories include fashion, music, film, visual art, photography, textiles, and jewelry.

The exhibition will run from June 23 to October 22.

Works from the Museum’s Arts of Africa, Photography, Arts of the Islamic World, Contemporary Art, and Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art collections will also be on display in the museum.

“This exhibition is an important presentation of African creativity that highlights not only fashion but also the dynamic diversity of talent coming from the continent,” says Ernestine White-Mifetu, Sills Foundation Curator of African Art at Brooklyn Museum in a press release. White-Mifetu is also the organizer of the event.

African Fashion Exhibit - Design by Chris Seydou. © Nabil Zorkot
Design by Chris Seydou. | Photo Credit: Nabil Zorkot

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Designers and Artists from 20 African Nations

“I am excited that the Brooklyn Museum will be able to host Africa Fashion, and I am elated that our New York visitors will have the opportunity to engage with the creative production of Africa in new ways. Fashion is both multidimensional and a fabulous creative statement, ” Africa Fashion encapsulates this with beautifully vivid and interlocking perspectives. Music, art, cultural identity, and material culture are emphasized to create a rich sensorial experience,” Annissa Malvoisin, Bard Graduate Center and Brooklyn Museum Postdoctoral Fellow in the Arts of Africa said in a press release.

Themed exhibits include garments, textiles, photographs, literature, sketches, music, film, and catwalk footage. Many of the 40 designers and artists from 20 African nations are exhibiting for the first time in the U.S.

The exhibition will also feature mid-twentieth-century and contemporary African designers, collectives, and fashion photographers.

The Museum’s Arts of Africa collection’s textiles complement wax prints and commemorative cloth.

Timed tickets for Africa Fashion go on sale on April 18, 2023. For more information, visit the Brooklyn Museum website.

Spotlighting Groundbreaking African Designers

The Vanguard section highlights the first generation of African designers to gain global attention.

Mid-20th-century works by Kofi Ansah (Ghana), Naima Bennis (Morocco), Shade Thomas-Fahm (Nigeria), Chris Seydou (Mali), and Alphadi (Niger) will debut in the U.S. for the first time.

A dynamic fashion photography installation will accompany them.

Capturing Change

The collection Capturing Change presents portraits that chronicle the independence years and document the growing sense of agency and pride in being both Black and African.

As photography became more affordable, pictures taken in studios and domestic spaces proliferated. Studio portraits by artists such as Seydou Keïta (Mali) and Malick Sidibé (Mali), drawn from the Museum’s collection.

The collection also exhibits fashion photography by James Barnor (Ghana).

Visitors will be able to engage with the material by sharing their own individual and family portraits that showcase styles from Africa’s independence years.

Through these contributions of self-fashioning, the diasporic community will become an integral part of the presentation.

Cutting Edge

The section Cutting Edge showcases a new generation of fashion designers and creatives.

Cutting Edge will show examples of couture and ready-to-wear garments, and adornment. This section fosters ideas like “Afrotopia,” “Artisanal,” “Co-creation,” “Provocation,” “Minimalist,” and “Mixologist.”

Cutting Edge highlights designs by dozens of contemporary artists and collectives whose groundbreaking collections call back to their rich and specific cultural backgrounds.

Through The Photographer’s Lens

The section Through the Photographer’s Lens shows how modern photography and film can build creative communities.

By promoting underappreciated artists, a new African identity can be explored.

The collection includes contemporary photography by Stephen Tayo (Nigeria), Sarah Waiswa (Uganda), and Victoire Douniama (Republic of the Congo). Additional works from Zanele Muholi (South Africa) and Omar Victor Diop (Senegal) are featured in the collection.

Closing the show is Global Africa, a section to highlight the global impact of African creativity by examining how the digital world boosted Africa’s fashion industry.

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