Art
Photo by Stephan Röhl via Wikimedia Commons.

Celebrated Contemporary African Art Curator Bisi Silva Has Passed Away

The independent curator and founder of Lagos' Centre for Contemporary Art lost her battle with cancer.

A tree has fallen in the contemporary African art world.

Bisi Silva, independent curator and founder of the Lagos-based Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), lost her battle with cancer Tuesday, PM News Nigeria reports.

"With a deep sense of loss, we regret to announce the passing of our Founder and Artistic Director of Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Olabisi Silva who passed away on Tuesday 12 February 2019," Iheanyi Onwuegbucha, the CCA's associate curator announced in a statement.


Silva marked 25 years working in the arts in 2017. She founded the CCA in 2007—an independent organization providing a platform for the development, presentation and discussion of contemporary visual art and culture. The Center also emphasized and cultivated collaboration among artists, curators, writers theorists with national and international organizations—promoting the development of professional curatorship in Nigeria and in West Africa.



The CCA houses a collection of over 500 books, catalogues, journals and videos documenting Nigerian art and art from the continent, prioritizing rising new voices and building local histories of African art in living archives, Mail and Guardian adds.

As an independent curator, Silva served as artistic director at the 10th Bamako Encounters in Mali in 2015, co-curator of Senegal's Dak'Art Biennale in 2006 and juror at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.

In 2010, she also founded Àsìkò—a pan-African, roaming art school with a mission to intergrate theory and practice, seeking to form new models for radical art education with models that will foster reflective art and make it relevant to local communities. It currently has seven chapters in six African cities.


"How can and do we move forward without the appropriate tools and systems for acquiring and disseminating knowledge? The same impetus that drove the founding of an art library at CCA, Lagos, was the catalyst for Àsìkò: to give access to information that could lead to meaningful dialogue, exchange and collaboration," Silva says of the art school in an interview with Frieze.

She was 57 years old.

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Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Freddie Harrel Is Building Conscious Beauty For and With the African Diaspora

Formerly known as "Big Hair Don't Care", creator Freddie Harrel and her team have released 3 new wig shapes called the "RadShapes" available now.


Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


The normalising of Black and brown women in wigs of various styles has certainly been welcomed by the community, as it has opened up so many creative avenues for Black women to take on leadership roles and make room for themselves in the industry.

Radswan (formerly known as Big Hair Don't Care), is a lifestyle brand "bringing a new perspective on Blackness through hair, by disrupting the synthetic market with innovative and sustainable products." Through their rebrand, Radswan aims to, "upscale the direct-to-consumer experience holistically, by having connected conversations around culture and identity, in order to remove the roots of stigma."

The latest from French-Cameroonian founder and creator Freddie Harrel - who was featured on our list of 100 women of 2020 - has built her career in digital marketing and reputation as an outspoken advocate for women's empowerment. On top of her business ventures, the 2018 'Cosmopolitan Influencer of the Year' uses her platform to advocate for women's empowerment with 'SHE Unleashed,' a workshop series where women of all ages come together to discuss the issues that impact the female experience, including the feeling of otherness, identity politics, unconscious bias, racism and sexism.

And hair is clearly one of her many passions, as Freddie says, "Hair embodies my freest and earliest form of self expression, and as a shapeshifter, I'm never done. I get to forever reintroduce my various angles, tell all my stories to this world that often feels constrained and biased."

Armed with a committee of Black women, Freddie has cultivated Radswan and the aesthetic that comes with the synthetic but luxurious wigs. The wigs are designed to look like as though the hair is growing out of her own head, with matching lace that compliments your own skin colour.

By being the first brand to use recycled fibres, Radswan is truly here to change the game. The team has somehow figured out how to make their products look and feel like the real thing, while using 0% human hair and not negotiating on the price, quality or persona.

In 2019, the company secured £1.5m of investment led by BBG Ventures with Female Founders Fund and Pritzker Private Capital participating, along with angelic contributions from Hannah Bronfman, Nashilu Mouen Makoua, and Sonja Perkins.

On the importance of representation and telling Black stories through the products we create, Freddie says, "Hair to me is Sundays kneeling between your mothers or aunties legs, it's your cousin or newly made friend combing lovingly through your hair, whilst you detangle your life out loud. Our constant shapeshifting teaches us to see ourselves in each other, the hands braiding always intimately touching our head more often than not laying someone's lap."

"Big Hair No Care took off in ways we couldn't keep up with," she continues, "RadSwan is our comeback.It's a lifestyle brand, it's the hair game getting an upgrade, becoming fairer and cleaner. It's the platform that recognises and celebrates your identity as a shapeshifter, your individuality and your right to be black like you."


Check out your next hairstyle from Radswan here.

Radswan's RadShape 01Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 02Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 03Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

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