A Landmark Exhibition Celebrating The Global Influence Of Modern And Contemporary African Fashions Is Being Presented By The Brooklyn Museum Under The Title Africa Fashion.
The show, which makes its North American debut in Brooklyn, includes over 180 pieces, including apparel and jewelry from the Museum’s Arts of Africa collection as well as works in music, film, visual art, and photography.
On view June 23–October 22, 2023
Africa Fashion is the largest-ever exposition on this topic in North America, honoring the exceptional originality, ingenuity, and worldwide impact of African clothing from the beginning of the independence era to the present. The exhibition highlights how fashion, along with the visual arts and music, played a crucial role in Africa’s cultural renaissance during its liberation years and how those elements laid the foundation for today’s fashion revolution through pieces by renowned designers and artists from the middle of the twentieth century to the present.
The show is run by the V&A, and Ernestine White-Mifetu, Sills Foundation Curator of African Art, and Annissa Malvoisin, Bard Graduate Center / Brooklyn Museum Postdoctoral Fellow in the Arts of Africa, have adapted it for the Brooklyn Museum.
Arts of Africa, Photography, Arts of the Islamic World, Modern Art, and Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art are a few of the Museum’s collections that are included in the Brooklyn exhibition.
Brooklyn offers the ideal setting for examining the diversity and depth of the different histories and cultures on the continent.
It is home to one of the nation’s most vibrant African diasporic groups.
“Fashion is a fantastic creative statement that is multi-dimensional. This is captured by African Fashion in stunningly vivid and intertwining ways. To create a rich sensory experience, music, art, cultural identity, and material culture are highlighted, according to Malvoisin.
The exhibition’s immersive exhibits of apparel, textiles, photos, writings, sketches, music, films, and catwalk footage are arranged thematically. Twenty different African countries are represented by more than forty designers and artisans, many of whose creations are on display for the first time in the country. The exhibition features clothing created by mid-twentieth-century designers as well as pieces created by a current generation of African fashion designers, collectives, and photographers.
Africa Fashion starts during the post-independence period, which lasted from the 1950s through the 1990s. At this time, the continent saw a significant political, social, and cultural shift. Pan-Africanism flourished, fostering a shared sense of identity that was centered on fashion and creative expression. In the Cultural Renaissance section, ephemera like protest signs, old magazine covers, and well-known album covers are used to illustrate this period of tremendous change.
Visitors can learn about how the creation and wearing of Indigenous fabric evolved into a calculated political act by visiting Politics and Poetics of Cloth.
Wax prints, commemorative cloth, àdr, kente cloth, and bglanfini are displayed among textiles from the Museum’s Arts of Africa collection.
The Vanguard section features the first generation of African designers to receive widespread recognition.
For the first time in the country, mid-to late-20th century works by Kofi Ansah (Ghana), Naima Bennis (Morocco), Shade Thomas-Fahm (Nigeria), Chris Seydou (Mali), and Alphadi (Niger) are exhibited combined with a vibrant display of fashion photographs from the time.
The images in Catching Change cover the years leading up to independence and show the emergence of a sense of action and African-American pride. Photographs shot in homes and studios increased in number as photography became more widely available.
Its expansion is demonstrated by studio portraits created by Mali artists Seydou Keta and Malick Sidibé, as well as by James Barnor’s (Ghana) fashion photography, family photos, and other works from the Museum’s collection.
Users are encouraged to interact with the content directly by contributing their own individual and family photos that reflect the fashions of pre-independence Africa. The diasporic community will become a crucial component of the presentation thanks to these contributions of self-fashioning.
Through samples of couture and ready-to-wear clothing, embellishment, and creative projects, the section Cutting Edge highlights a new generation of fashion designers and creatives.
Structured around concepts such as “Afrotopia,” “Artisanal,” “Co-creation,” “Provocation,” “Minimalist,” and “Mixologist,” this area shows designs by dozens of current artists and collectives whose trailblazing collections hark back to their rich and specific cultural history. For instance, the Alchemy collection by South African designer Thebe Magugu and stylist and healer Noentla Khumalo focuses on African spirituality and connections to ancestors. By incorporating “feminine” textiles and hues into menswear, Nigerian designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal and his label Orange Culture challenge conventional ideas of masculinity.
The self-portraits of Gouled Ahmed (Djibouti), a costume designer, stylist, and photographer, continue this discussion. Ahmed’s artistic expression also challenges conventional cultural gender conventions, particularly the underrepresentation of nonbinary Black Muslims.
Lafalaise Dion (Côte d’Ivoire) explores the cowrie shell’s history as a symbol of wealth, success, and fertility as well as its modern use as a piece of jewelry.
The artwork A Conversation between Cultures, created especially for Africa Fashion by Moroccan designer Maison ARTC, features the hand of Fatima (hamsa), a lucky symbol.
Through the Photographer’s Vision emphasizes how modern photography and cinema can support creative communities, provide unrepresented artists a platform, and investigate a new African identity. Contemporary photographers like Stephen Tayo (Nigeria), Sarah Waiswa (Uganda), and Victoire Douniama are collection pieces by South African photographers Zanele Muholi and Omar Victor Diop (Republic of the Congo).
Global Africa serves as the exhibition’s climax. This section highlights the global significance of African innovation by examining how the internet era has expedited the growth of Africa’s fashion sector and influence.
A specific exhibition catalog produced by V&A Publishing is available to accompany the display. Omoyemi Akerele, Amine Bendriouich, Gus Casely-Hayford, Sunny Dolat, Bonnie Greer, Monica L. Miller, Elisabeth Murray, Njoki Ngumi, Hadeel Osman, and Roslyn A.
Walker contributed to the catalog, which was edited by Christine Checinska. Anne Pasternak, Shelby White, and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum wrote a new foreword.
Africa Fashion will make advantage of a collaboration with ALRA, a premium lifestyle concept store located in Lagos, thanks to the efforts of Rachel Shechtman, the Brooklyn Museum’s Entrepreneur in Residence, to create a special exhibition shop experience. ALRA, which was established in 2015 by Reni Folawiyo and created by architect Sir David Adjaye, combines fashion, design, food, and culture.
ALRA, which was established in 2015 by Reni Folawiyo and created by architect Sir David Adjaye, combines fashion, design, food, and culture.
Folawiyo will select the designs for the exhibition shop for Africa Fashion, which will be ALRA’s first international outing.
Over the duration of the exhibition, special merchandise including products by designers featured in Africa Fashion as well as alternating trunk presentations and programs will enhance the shopping experience.
The Brooklyn Museum Store will sell products from Brooklyn, including but not limited to children’s toys, housewares, jewelry, and books, in addition to spotlighting brands and designers from Africa.
On April 18, 2023, timed tickets for Africa Fashion to go on sale. Starting on April 11, 2023, Museum Members can reserve their complimentary tickets.
Visit www.brooklynmuseum.org/join or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
The cost of a ticket is as follows:
Adults pay $20 from Wednesday to Friday; seniors pay $13, students pay $13, visitors with disabilities pay $13, and kids pay $8.
Adults pay $25 on Saturday and Sunday, seniors pay $17, students pay $17, visitors with disabilities pay $17, and kids pay $10.
The Sills Foundation Curator of African Art Ernestine White-Mifetu and Annissa Malvoisin, Bard Graduate Center / Brooklyn Museum Postdoctoral Fellow in the Arts of Africa, along with Catherine Futter, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, and Matthew Yokobosky, Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture, are responsible for organizing the Brooklyn Museum presentation of Africa Fashion.
Developed by the V&A and traveling the globe
Sponsor in chief: Bank of America.
Substantial assistance from AL-RA.
Content courtesy of The City Life Org & NFH