Vlisco campaign 6.2013 Vlisco, 2013

Picking up from my last post, here is a beautiful image from the latest ad campaign by Vlisco (see previous post). They have some cracking designers and stylists in their team – the fashion is always in tune with the latest western trends as well as pan-african ones. the fabrics are traditional but exciting in their colour schemes; their combinations for the outfits are just perfect. 10 out of 10 from FASHIONARCHAEOLOGY.

I also want to go back to the topic of african art/textiles by exploring the output of two more contemporary artists who are using textiles in their work to express “africaness” and more besides.

Cristina de Middel is a Spanish photographer-artist whose imagination was sparked off by a real story concerning Africa and its lack of space exploration programs (!), yes sounds barmy but if you visit her website and take a look at her AFRONAUTS projects you will be fascinated too.

Cristina de Middel, AfronautAfronaut from Zambia wearing a “wax” space suit and glass helmet.

De Middel has chosen to use ” traditional” printed textiles as an immediate visual reference to the local culture, thus creating a bizarre (even quaint) image, and so underlines the patronizing attitude the whole space travel from Africa story inspired. Once again, as with Yinka Shonibare, textiles are a vehicle for representing the more uncomfortable agendas.

Another artist using photography to address colonialism, it’s after effects and all things threatening to African culture is Samuel Fosso. In a series of self portraits he impersonates identities of negative figures in african society. He too makes significant use of “traditional” textiles

Samuel Fosso, le chef celui qui a vendu l'Afrique aux colons, selfportrait,1997, Magerorocca gallery milanLe chef celui qui a vendu l’afrique aux colons” self-portrait, 1997

Samuel Fosso, la femme americaine libérée, selfportrait,1997, Magerorocca gallery milanLa femme americaine“, self-portrait, 1997

 In this last image, fashion is clearly beeing criticised – its use to create an agressive “americanized” african woman far from traditional values.

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