Arts + Culture
Photo by Selina Avleshie

This Exhibition in Accra Celebrates the Brilliance of African Women Photographers

Take a look inside the Nubuke Foundation and Africa Lens' latest group exhibition which highlights the work of leading African women photographers.

The contemporary African visual landscape is constantly being refreshed with new images from different perspectives that represent the myriad of stories we have to tell. From performance art to literature, creatives work hard to produce vivid and honest depictions, not just of themselves, but their collective existence, as a means of expressing their experiences as well as countering the misrepresentation black bodies face. However, in most of these creative fields, the narratives tend to be dominated by men and or the male gaze. Nubuke Foundation, an Accra based gallery and Africa Lens have come up with a solution to this.

Over the past weekend the gallery and arts foundation located in East Legon a suburb of Accra, transformed the walls of its exhibition space into a shrine for Adama Jalloh, Amaal Said, Jessica Sarkodie, Heather Agyepong, Hilina Abebe and Lyra Aoko to tell their stories. The exhibition was based on the women focused 4th edition of the African Lens, a publication aiming at promoting visual storying telling by Africans, for Africans. Each room in the mazy gallery took on weighted emotions frozen in light by photography, and highlight a scope of techniques from fashion and lifestyle to documentary and portraiture.


Photo by Selina Avleshie

Being an extension of work debuted in print, the exhibition provided an exposition into the working practices of these photographers, each at different points in their careers. According to curator Bianca Manu at Nubuke who also edited this edition of Africa Lens, her selection of 6 photographers from the 11 published in the volume was influenced by an attempt to display diversity in the African narrative. "I wanted to show a range of photographers on the continent and the diaspora. I specifically chose photographers who had female subjects in their work, and were working across mediums. I wanted to have everything from lifestyle and fashion, documentary to reenactment. I wanted it to be a reflection of just how diverse we are a s a continent", she told me after the show.

Indeed, weaving through the space and the hundreds of viewers who made it to the opening night, you were able to glide across a spectrum of photographic brilliance. Nairobi-based Lyra Aoko's experimental fashion portraits certainly stood out as she played around with makeup pointillism as a way of layering texture onto the human face to remap expression in portraiture. Similarly, Amaal Said's series on young black women also brought some dynamism to the range of expression we see associated with black women by employing the emotional architecture of strong colors in framing her subjects. Ghanaian photography Jessica Sarkodie, with more of a documentary lens brought into sharp focus, the rituals that surround the Homowo festival, celebrated by the Ga in Accra which is marked by the flamboyant parade of twins through the heart of the city.

Photo by Selina Avleshie

Despite artist leverage technology to carve out new audience in the competitive digital world, it's still important that they then move to take up physical space and compel minds to pay attention to their perspectives. With this exposition is was particularly poignant to notice just how much the scope of work women in photography and just how much this can catalyze the broaden of our collective visual narrative. It was also poetic that Nubuke Foundation, a 90% women-run institution hosted a show of such magnitude, celebrating the work on women artists, exclusively which does not happen often in Accra's rapidly expanding art scene. The show will remain open till the end of the April, but you can pick up a copy of Africa Lens here to explore the essays that accompany the images.

Photo by Selina Avleshie

Photo by Selina Avleshie

Photo by Selina Avleshie


Photo by Selina Avleshie

Photo by Selina Avleshie

Photo by Selina Avleshie

Art
Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

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News Brief
Darkovibes in "Mike Tyson" (Youtube)

Watch Darkovibes & Runtown's New Video For 'Mike Tyson'

"Mike Tyson is a song for champions, pathfinders and trail blazers," Darkovibes' team says of the single and Accra-shot video.

A few months ago, Ghanaian artist and La Meme Gang member Darkovibes connected with Nigeria's Runtown for "Mike Tyson."

That addictive single now gets a new music video, directed by Zed, which follows both artists across Accra's High street and other city locations.

"Mike Tyson is a song for champions, pathfinders and trail blazers," a statement from Darkovibes' team reads. "It is for those who stand against popular opinions and make it. Runtown... touches on developmental issues in Nigeria. He also speaks on being bold in the face of institutional oppositions and signs out with a badman proclamation."

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14 Cultural Events You Can't Miss this December in South Africa

OkayAfrica's guide to must-see events during South Africa's festive season.

South Africans will tell you that December is not just a month, it's an entire lifestyle. From beginning to end, it's about being immersed in a ton of activity with friends and family as well as any new folk you meet along the way. Whether you're looking to turn up to some good music or watch some provocative theater, our guide to just 14 cultural events happening in South Africa this December, has something for everyone.

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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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