The Portland Art Museum presents Africa Fashion

November 18, 2023 – February 18, 2024

The Portland Art Museum presents Africa Fashion

PORTLAND, Oregon, October 24, 2023 — Africa Fashion opens at the Portland Art Museum on November 18 after acclaimed runs at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Brooklyn Museum. This first-of-its-kind exhibition, making its only West Coast stop at PAM, honors the irresistible creativity, ingenuity, and unstoppable global impact of contemporary Africafashions. Garments and textiles dating from the mid-twentieth century to the present day, contextualized by a range of cultural touchstones such as Drum magazines, Fela Kuti and Miriam Makeba record albums, and studio photography from Sanlé Sory, celebrate the transformative and liberatory power of self-fashioning. The New Yorker’s art critic Hilton Als called Africa Fashion a “vital and necessary exhibition.”The exuberance and cosmopolitan nature of the contemporary Africafashion scene unfolds through more than 50 outfits designed by over 40 designers hailing from 21 countries, who are shifting the geography of the global fashion world. Elegant minimalist garments by Mmusomaxwell, Katush, and Moshions push back on stereotypes that Africafashions are exclusively colorful and brightly patterned; knitwear by Maxhosa echoes traditional Xhosa beadwork patterns; shimmering silk and layers of raffia combine in fuchsia pink couture outfit by Imane Ayissi; and striking ensembles by Selly Raby Kane and Bull Doff reference Afrofuturism.

 

Africa Fashion Opening November 18

 

“African fashion means the past, the future, and the present at the same time,” said fashion designer Artsi, founder of Moroccan design house Maison ArtC. “The joy of life and the joy of color is completely different and very particular to the continent. It’s a language of heritage, it’s a language of DNA, it’s a language of memories.”Africa Fashion employs a cross-cultural and cross-continental approach throughout the exhibition galleries, centering multiple and varied African voices and perspectives. Starting with the African independence and the liberation years that sparked a radical political and social reordering across the continent, the exhibition explores how fashion, alongside music and the visual arts, formed a key part of Africa’s cultural renaissance, laying the foundation for today’s fashion revolution. A section on textiles presents vintage woven kente cloth alongside printed kanga cloths and Dutch Wax cotton, showing how the making and wearing of traditional textiles in the moment of independence became a strategic political act.

During this period, groundbreaking designers worked fluidly both on the continent and internationally. Garments included in the exhibition by vanguard creatives Alphadi (b.1957), Kofi Ansah (1951-2014), Naïma Bennis (1940-2008), Shade Thomas-Fahm (b.1933), and Chris Seydou (1949-1994), embody the artistic expression of the cultural renaissance.“I feel like there’s so many facets of what we’ve been through as a continent that people don’t understand,” said South African designer Thebe Magugu. “Now more than ever, African designers are taking charge of their narrative and telling people authentic stories, not the imagined utopias.”

Africa Fashion Opening November 18

 

The sophisticated fashions at the heart of African fashion simultaneously celebrate long-held traditions of cultural self-expression through clothing and the significant contributions of contemporary designers of African descent to the international fashion scene.Portland’s creative community also takes a turn on the catwalk for this presentation of African fashion. Togo-born designer Komi Jean Pierre Nugloze of N’Kossi Couture will be included in the exhibition, showcasing two of his contemporary designs. Portland-based LEVER Architecture collaborated with the Museum on an innovative exhibition design, including a single organic display platform that welcomes visitors to admire the contemporary garments from all angles.Africa Fashion is accompanied by a catalog published by V&A Publishing, which will be available in the Museum Store. In conjunction with Africa Fashion, the Museum will also offer a range of public programs to build on and deepen visitors’ experiences, including the opening lecture Making Africa Fashion on November 19 with exhibition curator Christine Checinska, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Senior Curator of African and Diaspora Textiles and Fashion. On January 12, 2024, PAM CUT // Center for an Untold Tomorrow welcomes Academy Award–winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter to the Tomorrow Theater to discuss art, fashion, and Afrofuturism. Carter’s award-winning designs for Black Panther 1 & 2 will be on view in screenings on January 13, and the Tomorrow Theater will also host the Portland premiere of Sundance 2023 sensation Bravo, Burkina! by writer-director and fashion designer Walé Oyéjidé.For the latest updates, watch their newly redesigned portlandartmuseum.org. Be sure to see this groundbreaking exhibition in Portland before it closes on February 18, 2024.

 

The Portland Art Museum presents Africa Fashion

Curated by the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Christine Checinska, Ph.D., Senior Curator of African and Diaspora Textiles and Fashion, with Project Curator Elisabeth Murray; curated for Portland by Julia Dolan, Ph.D., The Minor White Senior Curator of Photography.Sponsored in part by LEVER Architecture, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Silver Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. William Whitsell, Fred and Gail Jubitz,  Cyndy and Ed Maletis, The Standard, Ameriprise Financial, Oregon Cultural Trust, Mary, and Ryan Finley, William G. Gilmore Foundation, The Laura and Roger Meier Family, The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation and Exhibition Series Sponsors.

Programs

 

The Portland Art Museum presents Africa Fashion

Opening LectureMaking Africa Fashion with exhibition curator Christine ChecinskaSunday, November 19, 2 – 3:30 p.m., Grand BallroomAfrica Fashion celebrates the vitality and innovation of key creatives in Africa at the heart of the scene during the 20th-century post-independence era and now in this contemporary moment. Join exhibition curator Christine Checinska, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Senior Curator of African and Diaspora Textiles and Fashion, for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the exhibition. Tickets are available now.

 

The Portland Art Museum presents Africa Fashion

 

Tomorrow TheaterCarte Blanche: Ruth E. Carter January 11 -14, 2024In conjunction with Africa Fashion, PAM CUT’s newly opened Tomorrow Theater on Portland’s East side will host living legend and Academy Award–winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter as part of Carte Blanche, PAM CUT’s quarterly series giving polymath artists free rein to do what they want to do and share something new. Carter’s Carte Blanche weekend features her in a rare talk on January 12 moderated by Amy Dotson, Director of PAM CUT and the Portland Art Museum’s Curator of Film and new Media. Carter will reflect on her career as an artist, her influences from Afrofuturism, and more. Her latest book, The Art of Ruth Carter: Costuming Black History and the Afrofuture, from Do the Right Thing to Black Panther, will also be available for sale.The Carte Blanche weekend also includes screenings of Black Panther 1 and 2, as well as other influential films and media that inspired her career, and a preview screening and Portland premiere of Sundance 2023 sensation Bravo, Burkina! by writer-director and fashion designer Walé Oyéjidé.Tickets and more details are coming soon to tomorrowtheater.org.

 

The Portland Art Museum presents Africa Fashion

 

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