Photos

Wallplay Presents NOT x Chris Saunders In NYC

Jenny Lai and Chris Saunder's 'NOT x Chris Saunders' SA fashion/photography collaboration will by showcasing at Wallplay Gallery in NYC.

Words by Toni Oluwatoni Y. Akindele & Alyssa Klein


In January of 2014, New York-based designer Jenny Lai traveled to Johannesburg to collaborate with South African photographer and filmmaker Chris Saunders, the same director behind some of this year's most striking music videos (including Nozinja's "Tsekeleke" and Okmalumkoolkat's recent "Allblackblackkat"). Lai is the founder of womenswear brand NOT, an experimental label that defines itself by its own definition of the word "not"–  "the space around the solid and tangible, the hidden spaces within the folds of the clothing, and the open spaces where you reveal yourself surprisingly," they say. "It negates the solid and tangible in favor of space, imagination, and movement." Together Lai and Saunders set out to showcase "cultural reinvention" through a fashion/photography experiment entitled NOT x Chris Saunders. Moving across Joburg, Orange Farm, Soweto and Cape Town, the collaborators linked with four South African hyper-creatives to creatively interpret Lai's NOT garments. The group included accessories designer Dennis Chuene (who founded Vernac Bags), vintage clothier Dr. Pachanga, menswear designer Floyd Avenue (from the Smarteez in Soweto), and Pantsula dance costumer/puppeteer Macdonald Mfolo. "Each collaborator was chosen for the unique perspective they offered in the South African fashion scene," Lai explained on an Indiegogo page to raise funds to show their work in New York. She writes:

"In each collaboration, I immersed myself completely into the working style and process of my partners, whether it was working from a backyard shack or sourcing from the local upholstery stores. Together we created one-of-a-kind garments: a hat made by a local milliner, the joints of a puppet hand ingeniously created from overlapping recycled water bottles, a reengineered garment from 2nd hand clothing donated from the West."

NOT x Chris Saunders will be on display from September 10th to September 17th at NYC's "global art campaign space" Wallplay in the LES. The exhibition features a selection of re-interpreted NOT garments along with Saunders' images and final cuts documenting the collaboration. Lai and Saunders will be speaking at an artists' talk moderated by Wallplay, Monday, September 15th, at 7:30PM (To attend, RSVP to RSVP@wallplay.com). Visit Another Africa for their exceptional coverage of the project, including interviews with Lai and Saunders, Floyd Avenue, Macdonald Mafolo, Manthe Ribane, Dennis Chuene, and Dr. Pachanga.

>>>Details On NOT x Chris Saunders At Wallplay In NYC (September 10th-17th)

Interview

Interview: Bizzle Osikoya Is the A&R Shaping the Voice of a New Generation

We caught up with the A&R expert and co-founder of The Plug Management to talk about the fast-rising demand for Nigerian music and what it takes to break out as an artist.

The meteoric rise of Nigeria's burgeoning music industry over the last few years is definitely one for the books. From high profile collaborations that have graced international charts to appearances on American late night TV and a Grammy nomination, the Nigerian sound is sitting at the epicenter of a global conversation that the world—including Queen Bey herself —seem to scrabbling to get a piece of the action.

However, way before this global infiltration and westernized conflation of Africa's assortment of genres into one Afrobeats, Bizzle Osikoya was studying Music Business in England and plotting for a way to be a part of what he knew was inevitable. "I remember going to clubs in school and they would always play Jamaican music but rarely Nigerian songs. I knew we made good music here but I knew I couldn't sing. So I was motivated to come back, go behind the scenes, and see how we can make that crossover possible," he tells OkayAfrica.

More than a decade after making the intrepid decision to venture into A&R, helping artists find and develop their sound, Bizzle's creative genius has cascaded across different musical generations, from the piracy rife CD mix era with artists like Naeto C, Wande Coal and Dr. Sid to a streaming era populated with hits from Reekado Banks, Tiwa Savage and Davido.

Following the success of his latest project, Oxlade's Oxygene, we caught up with the A&R expert and co-founder of the Plug Management—a talent management company that has managed Davido, Peruzzi and DJ Obi—to talk about what it takes to break out as an artist, the fast-rising demand for Nigerian music, and how "alté" is not the same thing as alternative music.

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