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"Joy of Life - Two Photographers from Africa "
2004-02-11 until 2004-04-11
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
Tokyo, , JP

A unique exhibition of works by two of the most prominent photographers from Africa - J.D.’Okhai Ojeikere and Malick Sidibe. J.D.’Okhai Ojeikere photographs hairstyles of Nigerian women. Malick Sidibe’s images of the Malian youth are a primary record of a time of relaxing social conventions which corresponds to a period of political change.

Ojeikere's photographs depict hair as playful, minimalist and abstract forms. At the time, these refined and stylish photographs provide an unexpected insight into Nigerian culture.

There are hundreds of ethnic groups in Nigeria, each with its own language and traditions. Among other things which are part of these traditions are various hairstyles. These are determined by the social position of the family, and the artistic talent of the hair stylist. Among them there are special hairstyles for ceremonies such as circumcisions, a woman's becoming an adult, or the celebration of a marriage. Today it is difficult to trace the background of certain hairstyles because various ethnic groups have mixed together, and adapted to modern culture. Many hairstyles have died out, taking their secrets to the grave with them. Since 1968 Ojeikere (b. Nigeria, 1930) has been making photographs of various hairstyles he sees on the street or at work, or at celebrations. He always asks his models where the hairstyle they are wearing comes from, what its meaning is, its name, and its history. In 1961 Ojeikere became the studio photographer for the first African television station. He opened his own studio in 1975, Foto Ojeikere. During an arts festival in 1968 he decided to begin photographing Nigerian cultural life. Since then he has travelled through the country in search of subjects. It was that same year he also began his "Hairstyles" series.

Sidibe’s works such as “PARTY,” “NIGER RIVER” and “PORTRAITS” that were created in the sixties and seventies are scheduled to be on display in this exhibition. Sidibe has won the 2003 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography.

Malick Sidibé has documented an important period of West African history with great feeling, enthusiasm and commitment. In his portraits and documentary photography, he has uniquely captured the atmosphere and vitality of an African capital in a period of great effervescence. From the very beginnings of the postcolonial period, he has been a privileged witness to a period of tremendous, euphoric cultural change. As a young but already well-reputed photographer, Malick Sidibé captured a time of paradigm shift and youthful insousiance, curiosity about the rest of the world, pride, and confidence in the future. The work of Malick Sidibé, largely devoted to Malian youth in the 1950s and 60s, is a unique memoir and testimony. These photographs, originally intended for an African audience, are now available for the admiration of all.

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