Made You Look: Dandyism And Black Masculinity At The Photographer’s Gallery

September 12, 2016

Made You Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity at the Photographer’s Gallery

Through September 25, London art gallery The Photographers Gallery has a show on that explores, in the words of curator Ekow Eshun, “how black men represent themselves in a world where they’re often defined by the views of others.”

Eshun’s selections for the show range from 1970s portraits in postcolonial Mali to recent studio photos like the one above, to self portraits, to street photography. They primarily feature confident looking young men shot with, as Eshun put it, sympathy from the photographer, so they’re less likely to be posed formally against a wall and more likely to be in settings that allow personality to show through. Their dress is generally extravagant as you’d associate with the word “dandy,” but whereas to me dandy has certain connotations of softness and concern with the silly minutae of dress, the clothing and subjects here are generally more forward, subversive, even provocative.

I’m not in London so I can’t check it out in person but it looks like a great exhibit. There’s more in this video interview with Eshun.

See more on the exhibit here.

Photo: Afrikan Boy, Ed. 5/5 Photograph by Hassan Hajjaj, 2012