24 April 2018

African Women Photographers Illuminate African Narratives in Ghanian Exhibition

The Nubuke Foundation, a gallery and arts foundation located in East Legon, a suburb of Accra, Ghana, transformed the walls of its exhibition space into a shrine for African women photographers who tell their stories through a unique lens

The exhibition was based on the fourth edition of African Lens, a publication that aims to promote visual story-telling by Africans, for Africans. Each room in the gallery took on weighted emotion captured through photography and highlighted a range of styles, from fashion and lifestyle to documentary and portraiture. The female photographers on display were Adama Jalloh, Amaal Said, Jessica Sarkodie, Heather Agyepong, Hilina Abebe and Lyra Aoko.

According to the curator, Bianca Manu, her selection of these six 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 in 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 to documentary and reenactment. I wanted it to be a reflection of just how diverse we are as a continent," she told Okay Africa.

A synopsis of the photographers' contribution describes their work as follows: Nairobi-based Lyra Aoko's experimental fashion portraits stood out due to her use of make-up 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 brought dynamism to the range of expression associated with black women by employing the emotional architecture of strong colours in framing her subjects. Ghanaian photographer Jessica Sarkodie has more of a documentary lens that brought into sharp focus the rituals that surround the Homowo festival, celebrated by the Ga in Accra and marked by the flamboyant parade of twins through the heart of the city.

It is fitting that the Nubuke Foundation, which is 90% women-run, hosted a show of such magnitude to celebrate the work of women photographers. The show will remain open until the end of April 2018. Copies of Africa Lens are already available to explore the essays that accompany the images.

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