Arts + Culture
Samuel Fosso, Self Portrait, 1977. International Center of Photography, Purchase, with fundsprovided by the ICP Aquisitions Committee, 2004 (19.2004) © Samuel Fosso, Courtesy JMPatras/Paris

These Portraits by African Photographers Reveal the Power In Self-Presentation

We take a tour through the International Center for Photography's "Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection", which features influential works from Malick Sidibé, Zanele Muholi, Samuel Fosso and more.

The eyes of the young woman in Zanele Muholi's "Anele, 'Anza' Khaba," look as if they're staring directly into your soul. With her arms folded against her chest, it seems she might be putting a guard up or that they might simply be trying to look cool for the camera. With portraiture especially, how far you decide to read into something is up to you, as often, the line between a subject's desire for self-presentation and what the photographer themselves seeks to convey, isn't always clear. These are the types of observations that the "Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection", sparked in my mind as I strolled through the space with its Director of Exhibitions and Collections, Erin Barnett.

"You learn a lot about yourself and about other people by looking at portraits, but not always what you think you know," she says. We also learn a lot about the person behind the lens. The ICP's exhibit features works from photographers from across the globe, with the mission of surveying "the nuanced ways people present themselves for the camera, how and by whom they are represented, and who is deemed worthy of commemoration." The works of four prominent African photographers are included in the exhibition: the Malian icon Malick Sidibé, Cameroon's Samuel Fosso, along with South African photographers Zanele Muholi, and Lolo Veleko. Their photographs, the settings, and who they choose to document, give us a glimpse into their vision as much as it does the subjects in their photographs (which for Samuel Fosso, in this case, is himself.)

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Photos

100 Years Of Portrait Photography In West Africa At The Met

A new exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC highlights 100 years of portrait photography in West Africa.

All images courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Photos

The Borrowed Identities Of Cameroonian Self-Portrait Photographer Samuel Fosso

Cameroonian self-portrait photographer Samuel Fosso's solo exhibition is on display at the Walther Collection in New York City.

All images copyright Samuel Fosso, courtesy the Walther Collection and Jean Marc Patras Galerie

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Events

A Look At LagosPhoto: 'The Megacity and the Non-City'

The 4th edition of LagosPhoto, themed 'The Megacity and the Non-City,' marked another stunning series for Nigeria's only international photo festival.

This weekend marks the end of the stunning fourth edition of LagosPhoto, Nigeria's first and only international arts festival of photography. The monthlong program featured over fifty photographers spanning fifteen countries, including OKA favorites Hauwa R. Mukan (Nigeria), Cyrus Kabiru (Kenya), Samuel Fosso (Cameroon), Kudzanai Chiurai (Zimbabwe), Obi Nwokedi (Nigeria), and Lakin Ogunbanwo (Nigeria). This year's theme, The Megacity and the Non-City, looked at Africa's expanding urban landscape, replete with contradictions, grey areas, and sites of dispute. Especially monumental was the participation of self-portrait megastar Samuel Fosso- his first time exhibiting in the country he grew up in. With The Emperor of Africa, which made its premiere at LagosPhoto, the many faced photographer posed as Mao Zedong for a five photo interpretation of Sino-African relations. Above we showcase some incredible (really incredible) photos from this year's series. For more from LagosPhoto head here.

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