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J.D 'Okhai Ojeikere: Exploring the Beauty of Black hair through Photography

Black History Month

Have you ever taken a moment to appreciate the beauty and complexity of Black hair? From traditional African hairstyles to contemporary styles and trends, Black hair has been a source of cultural pride and identity for people of African descent.

Photographer, J.D 'Okhai Ojeikere infamous Hair series is a visual representation of the power of Black hair. As a forerunner of the practice of documentary photography in Nigeria, his work cross boundaries between traditional and contemporary Nigerian culture and expand our idea of art and its role in everyday life. The Hairstyle series, which consists of close to a thousand photographs, is the largest and the most thorough segment of Ojeikere’s archive. He photographed hairstyles every day in the street, in offices, at parties and recorded each subject systematically: from the rear, sometimes in profile, and occasionally head on.

(Left) J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, AGARACHA, 1974. Photo, Black & White, 100cm x 100cm. (Center) J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, Untitled (Mkpuk Eba), 1974. Photo, Black & White. (Right) J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, IFE BRONZE, 1972. Photo, Black & White, 60cm x 50cm.

“All these hairstyles are ephemeral. I want my photographs to be noteworthy traces of them. I always wanted to record moments of beauty, moments of knowledge. Art is life. Without art, life would be frozen.” - J.D 'Okhai Ojeikere

Black hair has been depicted in a variety of ways, depending on the historical and cultural context of the time. In traditional African art, Black hair was often stylized and intricate, showcasing its beauty and significance. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, Black hair was celebrated in photography and painting, capturing the unique and diverse styles of the time. However, as society became more integrated, the portrayal of Black hair in art became more fraught. It was often reduced to caricature and stereotype, reinforcing negative attitudes about Black identity and culture.

Source: MAGNIN-A

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J.D 'Okhai Ojeikere: Exploring the Beauty of Black hair through Photography

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