May is but two days away. Who asked for it to be May already? Can you believe how quickly this year is going? Onwards! Two exciting African in Art in London events begin this week.
Leonce Rapahel Agbodjelou @ Jack Bell Gallery.
Agbodjelou is one of Benin’s most renowned photographers, the founder and director of the West African republic’s first photographic school and recently appointed president of Porto-Novo’s [Benin’s capital city] Photographer’s Association. This is Agbodjelou’s second time at Jack Bell and he will again be showcasing work from his Citizens of Porto Novo portraiture project. All Agbodjelou photos of his fellow Porto-Novo citizens bristle with the same mix of high-low tension, historic-modern energy. While last year the focus was his Demoiselles – topless damsels with masked faces wandering around a grand old colonial house, part body, part statue, part spirit, bathed in dark light. This year Musclemen take centre stage. They are a brighter presence, they wear wax fabric trousers and pose against colourful backdrops. They hold flowers and stand in ways that make their muscles pop.
Citizens of Porto Nova
1 May – 25 May
Jack Bell Gallery
13 Mason’s Yard, St James’s,
London SW1Y 6BU
Opening Hours: Tues- Sat, 10-6
The 9th Annual Images of Black Women Festival
The Images of Black Women Festival aims to increase the visibility of women of African descent in film. Over the course of nine days it hosts talks, workshops, art exhibitions and of course shows a lots of films directed by black women. The mainstream highlights are the UK premiers of Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere and a screening of Pariah directed by Dee Rees starring Adepero Oduye.
The festival takes place across 5 London venues. A full programme of events can be viewed here.
Key African films include:
Mother’s Day (Kare Kare Zvako): Directed by Tsitsi Dangaremba (Zimbabwe)
An all singing all-dancing short tale of women’s empowerment, focusing on a mother and her three children travelling through drought-stricken bush
Yellow Fever: Directed by Ng’Endo Mukii (Kenya)
Striking animation mixed with performing bodies discussing shadeism and Black women’s perceptions of beauty
The Naked Option Directed by Candace Schermerhorn (Nigeria)
A documentary on the power of an organised group of women who use the threat of stripping naked to garner power within their community.
Cameroonian Women in Motion: Directed by Florence Ayisi (Cameroon)
An 10-min celebratory snapshot of Cameroonian women parading with pride on International Women’s Day.