Something in the Hair

For his first London solo show, young Nigerian photographer Andrew Esiebo uses barbershops as a medium through which to examine what it means to be a man in West Africa.

Nuances, Accra no.7, 2012
Nuances, Accra no.7, 2012

The show, entitled Pride, will open in January at the Tiwani Contemporary gallery, and aims to explore the social identity of men in the regions through their hairstyles and haircare habits.

Images captured in eight cites – Lagos, Cotonou, Accra, Abidjan, Monrovi, Bamako, Dakar and Noukachott will be on display, many of which have never been seen in public before.

‘Pride unveils the aesthetics of barbershops, its iconographies as well as its symbols to highlight the social, spiritual and mythical impact of hair in African scoiety’, says the gallery.

‘Beyond the documentary aspect, Pride is a reflection of the coexistence of tradition and modernity’.

The images are broadly split into four bodies of work – Urban Aesthetics, Nuances, The Barbers and Style.

The image below, from the Urban Aesthetics series, looks at how the barbershop exteriors use bright, bold hand-painted signs to reflect ‘the rhythms and soul of the street’, says Esiebo:

Urban Aesthetics, Cotonou no.6, 2012
Urban Aesthetics, Cotonou no.6, 2012

 The Nuances series, meanwhile, goes inside the shops, uncovering the symbols and icons that make up these vivid little microcosms.

Alongside the photographs, the show will also present a new site-specific installation by Esiebo.

Esiebo, Nuances, Accra No. 12, 2012
Esiebo, Nuances, Accra No. 12, 2012

Andrew Esiebo: Pride, runs from 10 January – 8 February 2014 at Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland Street, W1W

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