Africa

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Photography

Nigerian Hair Culture Documented in Rainbow-Hued Portraits by Medina Dugger

August 9, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Purple Kinky Calabar. All photographs © Medina Dugger

Lagos-based photographer Medina Dugger documents colorful hair culture in the coastal Nigerian city with her ongoing series Chroma. The collection of portraits pays homage to J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, a renowned African photographer who documented women’s hairstyles in Nigeria for over 50 years, starting in the mid-20th century.

Prior to decolinization, Dugger explains, wigs and straightening had replaced much of the indigenous hair culture, and ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s documentations sought to celebrate traditional hairdos. She continues, “African hair braiding methods date back thousands of years and Nigerian hair culture is a rich and often extensive process which begins in childhood. The methods and variations have been influenced by social/cultural patterns, historical events and globalization. Hairdos range from being purely decorative to conveying deeper, more symbolic understandings, revealing social status, age and tribal/family traditions.”

While ‘Okhai Ojeikere’ images were in black and white, Dugger updates the documentary style with brightly colored backgrounds, a diverse array of vibrant contemporary fashion, and rainbow hues integrated into the hairstyles with thread, beads, and dyed extensions. You can see more of Dugger’s colorful editorial photography on her website and Instagram.

Blue Coiling Penny Penny

Blue Beri Beri

Golden Eggs

Left: Purple Irun Kiko / Right: Pink Buns

Yellow Tip Twist

Emerald Abebe

Aqua Suku

Left: Violet Irun Kiko / Right: Yellow Monocle

Pink Didi with Cowry Shell

Blue Star Koroba

Calabar Bun Trio

 

 



Animation

A Five-Part Stop Motion Anthology Tests the Limits of Short Film

June 6, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

This Magnificent Cake! is a new stop motion animation by Belgium-based filmmaker pair Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels (previously) which tests the physical limits of short film. The 44-minute, 5-chapter anthology is just over the cut for what can be considered a short film, yet is far more condensed then one that is a traditional longer format. Described as a “mid-length film,” the work follows five different characters through colonial Africa in the late 19th-century which include a “troubled king, a middle-aged Pygmy working in a luxury hotel, a failed businessman on an expedition, a lost porter, and a young army deserter.”

The film premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and will be screened at the upcoming Animafest Zagreb 2018, Annecy Festival 2018, and Anima Mundi Brazil 2018. You can see the trailer for the animation above, and more short films by de Swaef and Roels on Vimeo. (via Short of the Week)

 

 



Photography

Swirling Star Trails Captured Over the Namib Desert by Daniel Kordan

May 8, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Russian photographer Daniel Kordan is a master of photographing the cosmos. In 2016 we covered his journey to the Salar de Uyuni, where he captured millions of brilliantly hued stars reflected in the world’s largest salt flat. Recently, Kordan returned from a trip to Namibia where he mapped swirling trails of stars above the Deadvlei, a white clay pan speckled with the 900-year-old tree skeletons, and other sites across the Namib desert.

The images feature vortexes of multi-colored stars streaked across the sky like post-impressionist paintings. The Milky Way’s warm and cool tones intermix to create a kaleidoscopic vision of the sky above, and illuminate the barren desert landscape below. To capture such images yourself, Kordan suggests creating a time lapse with a wide angle lens, and utilizing an app like PhotoPills which allows you to easily predict the position of the stars.

You can see more of Kordan’s exploration through Namibia in the images below, and view his photographs from other locations across the globe on his website and Instagram.

 

 



Photography

Abstract Aerial Photographs of Southern Africa by Zack Seckler

March 22, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Photographer Zack Seckler's latest series took him 2,000 miles through South Africa, each piece shot from the passenger seat of a two-seater sport plane. The works feature animal tracks and shadows as compositional elements, capturing herds of flamingos, gemsbok, and even a solo turtle resting in the dazzling blue water.

“From elevations between 50 and 500 feet, the landscape hovers on the line between things looking very real and recognizable and being more abstract,” said Seckler. “That’s what really draws me in—the line between reality and abstraction.”

Seckler’s aerial photographs will be exhibited in a solo show of his work titled Zack Seckler: South Africa at ClampArt in New York City opening April 13. You can see more of his work (including this series of horse portraits) on his Instagram and Facebook, and a behind-the-scenes video of the week-long journey below. (via Colossal Submissions)

 

 



Art Craft

Intimate Embroidered Portraits by Danielle Clough

November 14, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

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Cape Town-based artist Danielle Clough (previously here and here) embroiders portraits of friends and loved ones, adapting black and white images of subjects into multi-colored works. By working from black and white images the resulting works are not tied to the colors present in the original images, creating vibrant pieces that feature bright oranges, purples, and blues.

The portraits featured here were produced by Clough for the upcoming book Queer Africa II, a collection of new stories about love on the continent of Africa. The editors, Makhosazana Xaba and Karen Martin, were drawn to Clough’s work for the publication because of the conceptual linkage of her layered yarn to the personal narratives told in the book, which Zaba explained “adds meaning and speaks to the zigzagging nature of our lives.”

Queer Africa II will be published next month through MaThoko’s Books and be available online through both Amazon and African Books Collective. You can see more portraits by Clough on her Instagram, and take a look into the artist’s process on her blog.

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Design Food

Beehive Fences in East Africa Protect Farms from Elephants

December 7, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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All photos courtesy The Elephants & Bees Project / Lucy King

When trying to protect farms in east Africa from elephants, it would seem that nothing short of a giant reinforced fence or a chasmic ditch could safely keep the largest land animals on Earth away without causing harm. Unfortunately, building such barriers around every field is impractical, and the interactions of people protecting their crops frequently leads to accidents or even death of both farmers and elephants. But zoologist Lucy King had a much smaller idea: bees.

It turns out elephants are terrified of bees because when the insects sting the inside of their trunks the pain is excruciating and there’s little they can do about it. The sound of buzzing alone is enough to make elephants leave an area immediately. King wondered what might happen if a string of suspended beehives at every 10 meters around a field might be enough to keep elephants away. A pilot program in 2009 proved widely successful and soon The Elephant and Bees Project was born.

There are now active beehive fences in Kenya, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Sri Lanka. Not only do the fences help pollinate crops and safely deter elephants, they also become an additional revenue stream for farmers who harvest honey and sell it locally, a fascinating example of interspecies landscape engineering.

The Elephant and Bees Project is currently trying to raise funds to greatly expand the program. You can make a donation here. (via Neatorama, Nag on the Lake)

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Photography

Diamond Nights: Africa’s Oldest Trees Photographed Against Starry Night Skies by Beth Moon

June 4, 2015

Christopher Jobson

DNVela

In this new series of striking images, San Francisco-based photographer Beth Moon (previously) captures some of the world’s oldest living trees against shimmering night skies in remote areas of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Titled Diamond Nights, the new photos were inspired in part by Moon’s interest in several new studies suggesting a relationship between starlight and cosmic radation on tree growth. Diamond Nights is a progression of Moon’s 15-year journey photographing ancient trees around the world. Moon shares about her process:

The majority of these photographs were created during moonless nights, shot with a wide angle lens and ISO of 3200 – 6400. The Milky Way, a ribbon of stars that stretches from horizon to horizon burns brightly in some of the images. Exposures up to 30 seconds allowed enough light to enter the lens without noticeable star movement. Each location required a lot of experimenting. and different lighting techniques. Sometimes a short burst of diffused light from a flashlight was sufficient, or bounced light from multiple flashlights was used for a softer more natural glow.

You can see many more shots in this online gallery, and read more about Moon’s work on the series on Feature Shoot.

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DNAra

DNAndromeda

DNCorvus

2-up

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