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Renowned Nigerian Art Curator Okwui Enwezor Has Passed Away

Enwezor's work directly challenged Eurocentrism in the art world.

Okwui Enwezor, the international renowned contemporary art curator, writer and educator, recognized as one of the foremost ambassadors of contemporary African art has passed away after a three year battle with cancer. He was 55.

Enwezor has an illustrious and noteworthy career, setting several precedents for African curators. In 2015, he became the first African-born curator to spearhead the Venice Biennale. He also became the first non-European curator to organize the German-based exhibition Documenta in 2002, according to Art News. He is the only curator to have overseen both the Venice Biennale and Documenta.


Enwezor was noted for his innovative approach that emphasized the work of international artists—challenging the art world's exclusionary Eurocentrism. He became director of the Haus Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany in 2011, but stepped down last June.

"If we have an open mind, Western art doesn't have to be seen in opposition to art from elsewhere," he said in a 2014 interview with German site Freunde von Freunden. "But can be seen in a dialogue that helps protect the differences and decisions that present the material, circumstances and conditions of production in which artists fashion their view of what enlightenment could be."

After moving to the United Sates to study political science, the curator, who was born in Kalaba, Nigeria in 1963, founded his own art magazine in 1994. He had several career highlights throughout his decades long career, one of his earliest was when he curated the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997. "When I started, I always had what I thought was a change agenda," he told the Asia Society of New York in a 2014 interview.

His passing is a major loss to the contemporary art world, and is being felt by several followers of his work— many of whom have taken to social media to pay tribute and reflect on his many contributions to the art world.







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

Interview

Interview: Reekado Banks Is Coming For Everything

We talk to the Nigerian star about 2020, his latest Off the Record EP, and what his aims are for the future.

Joy is a theme that Reekado Banks keeps returning towards. In an arduous year additionally defined by landmark movements across the world, the 26-year-old musician born Ayoleyi Hanniel Solomon has managed to find pockets of happiness wherever he can. It has not always been easy to maintain that perspective in a year such as this.

After opening the 2020 at full speed with a series of tour dates, determined to kick off the second part of his career properly, COVID-19 struck. And with Nigerian borders closed for a while, the musician had to stay put in Gabon for much of lockdown and its immediate aftermath. "That time was a period for me to grow personally and I really took my time to do that," he shares during our Zoom call.

Much of his growth, as a person and musician, is trackable on Off The Record, the recently released seven-song extended play that has been a little over a year in the works. "Off The Record was conceived in 2019," he admits. The result of all those months of tweaking and delays is a delightful display of Reekado Banks' new-found penchant for minimalist production that accentuates the range of his serene vocals, giving way to stellar collaborations with Tiwa Savage on "Speak To Me," and Harmonize on "Mama."

Still, Reekado is quick to warn that he's only getting started, making mention of the stash of music that he still has to choose from even as he continues to write more songs. The aim is to come for everything he has always wanted. "Right now, I really just want more and the hunger is crazier," he says with all seriousness at the tail-end of our conversation.

Below, we talk about 2020, life, Off The Record, and what his aims are.

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Photo credit: Sean Thoms

Femi & Made Kuti Create Their 'Legacy +' With New Two-Album Project

The son and grandson of Fela Kuti pay their respects to the legend by honouring his music styles through their own.

Femi and Made Kuti are fully equipped to carry the Kuti legacy as torchbearers for change, as they continue to do the work left over by afrobeat legend and father/grandfather to the pair: Fela Kuti.

The waves created by Fela in his time still continue to affect not only his Nigerian countryfolk, but the world at large. It seems that no one is immune to his messages of change, social and political justice, as his own son and grandson have continued in his steps so many years later.

The February 5th Partisan Records release of their joint 2-album project Legacy + is sure to be an exciting one.

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Interview: ÌFÉ Blends Music & Religion to Honor Those Who Have Died During the Pandemic

Producer and percussionist Otura Mun talks about his latest EP, The Living Dead, and how he traces the influences of West Africa in his new work.