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The Black Gaze Newsletter | April 2022

The Black Gaze Newsletter
The Black Gaze Newsletter
Hello Black Gaze Family!
My name is Tobi Sobowale. I am a British-Nigerian Multidisciplinary Artist, born and raised in London.
This month’s newsletter will explore the multi-faceted layers of who I am by looking at heritage, identity and how creativity can be used to explore these themes.

What does the word heritage mean to you?
It connects with history
It connects with people
It connects with places
It’s the past, it’s the present 
And it’s the future.
The past. The present. The future.
The past. The present. The future.
The past… The present… The future…
If you asked me about my heritage, 
I wouldn’t know where to start.
You see 
I was born in Lewisham so therefore I am… 
Black and British
My mum grew up in Nigeria
My dad was born there
And therefore, I am Nigerian
But not really…
You see all I know is Lewisham,
Born and bred in Southeast London 
26 years and I still live here
Preserving my Nigerian heritage is what I fear
My heritage is in my name 
I know it’s not quite the same… but
It’s one of the main ways in which my culture remains
My heritage is in my name 
I may not have been born in Nigeria
I might not have lived there
But that doesn’t make me any less Nigerian to be fair
Through my name I have a connection to this place
So, if you don’t think I belong, come say it to my face
My grandparents were born there
So, my family history is something I handle with care 
They allow me to connect
To this place
And therefore, I am Nigerian, correct?
But let’s bring it back to London, 
Southeast specifically
I’ve seen people rep this area religiously
I’ve seen it change
Good or bad
You decide 
Gentrification pushes people out
Is that a fair ride?
You might say it’s necessary 
Some might say it’s wrong
If I shared all my thoughts, I could probably write a song
Elephant & Castle, Brixton, Deptford
Need I say more?
They don’t look the same as before 
But it highlights the importance of the preservation of local spaces
Keeping a record of the changing faces
I don’t even know who my neighbours are anymore
People come and go, so what am I remembering names for?
But it highlights the importance of the preservation of local spaces
Maybe not always physically 
Because sometimes it’s not up to us what spaces remain 
But if we share the stories, our perspectives, have some ownership
Its heritage all the same
Anyway, I’ve spoken enough about me
But we’re all experts of our own experiences, you see
I’ve shared a bit about what heritage means to me,
I play a role in preserving my heritage and you do too 
So, I am going to ask this question one last time
What does heritage mean to you?
- Tobi Sobowale, 2022.
My Peoples
Wasi Daniju
Wasi, a UK-based Nigerian photographer, responds to our My Peoples brief.
The ‘Discover’ section will look a bit different this month. It features Nigerian musicians, artists, authors, and photographers whose work inspires me. I’ve included these names because they use their art to express their identity through their culture and heritage, some by delving into major historical events of Nigeria’s past.
Burna Boy: Another Story (feat. M.anifest)
Burna gets candid telling the solemn story of Nigeria breaking free from under British rule in 1960. Nigerian citizens are shown wearing black blindfolds that read the various issues that plagued the nation prior to gaining its independence like “greed,” “corruption” and “fear.”
Falz: This is Nigeria
“This Is Nigeria” is a song by Nigerian rapper Falz, is a cover of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”. The song addresses a number of societal issues prevalent in Nigeria, including SARS brutality, codeine abuse and unrestrained killings.
Tobi Sobowale: Don't Touch My Hair
Does this statement sound familiar? It’s a phrase thought of by many black people, especially black women but its not a phrase that is often said.
My main inspiration for this project were the women around me, as well as my Yoruba heritage. For those of you who don’t know, the Yoruba people are a West African ethnic group that mainly inhabits parts of Nigeria, Benin and Togo.
Today in Nigeria and the diaspora, Yoruba people are known for opulence and flair. The series creates modern interpretations of traditional Yoruba hairstyles. 
 To learn more about this project, click here.
As a photographer I often think about what makes my work different. What story do I want to tell? What is the narrative of my work?
Moving forward I want to deepen my understanding of my heritage and learn how I can translate my ‘Black-British-ness’ and Nigerian culture into the art I create.
…my point is that the only authentic identity for the African is the tribe…I am Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black to be as different as possible from his white. But I was Igbo before the white man came.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.
Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
First published in 1958, Chinua Achebe’s stark, coolly ironic novel reshaped both African and world literature, and has sold over ten million copies in forty-five languages. This arresting parable of a proud but powerless man witnessing the ruin of his people begins Achebe’s landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease.
Afrophobia. Yes, It’s a Thing
After living in Black skin every day for well over five decades in a country where white is the default cultural standard for all that is meet and right, I’ve picked up a thing or two about what’s going on. It’s Afrophobia. Yes, that’s a real thing. - Clay Rivers
Clay Rivers, editor of Our Human Family (OHF) Weekly reflects on Afrophobia, a phenomenon that continues to a lived experience that impacts photography and life.
Sunrise Mill Estate: A Photograph by Immaculata Abba
Former Q&A collaborator, Immaculata Abba reflects on what Nigeria and photography means to her.
Game of confidence: Nigeria’s female boxers throw a punch at the patriarchy
Women’s boxing is nothing new in Nigeria, yet sexist attitudes still hold firm. All six women photographed by Taiwo Aina for this project – from different backgrounds, and at different levels – have shown fierce determination in taking up a sport seen by many, including their own families, as unfeminine.
The High Life
Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, is home to almost 15 million people. Among them are some of the biggest names of the fast-growing music genre known as Afrobeats, making for a party like no other.
Chin We: An Ode to Elysee
This visual and textual series is prompted by the various hairnets worn by Black women, one of which comes in packaging branded ‘Elysee’. The series explores the relationship Black women have with their hairnets and silk scarves while celebrating Black women, hair and culture.
The Art of Printmaking: By Uchechukwu Ibemere
Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, is home to almost 15 million people. Among them are some of the biggest names of the fast-growing music genre known as Afrobeats, making for a party like no other.
Andrew Jackson: Framing
Photography allows us to see so many things but also perhaps to see only that which we want to. - Andrew Jackson
This poignant reflection by Andrew highlights truths and ask important questions that we can all reflect on as we develop as photographers, curators and gallerists.
Through the Lens: Nigeria
“Through The Lens - Nigeria” is a web docuseries presented by ADORAMA that features Nigerian photographers who shoot everything from product photography to fashion photography. Take a look at the creatives who are inspiring a world of photographers.
What does Nigeria really look like? This short tour around Lagos, Obudu Cattle Ranch, Ibom Golf Resort, and Gurara Falls seeks to answer that question.
Moments in Time
Free Space Project is delighted to announce their new exhibition ‘Moments in Time’ bringing together artists Iko-Ojo Mercy Haruna and Lucy Levene. Conceived as a two-person exhibition, it features powerful, dynamic images capturing fleeting moments in parenthood, highlighted in the chosen title. Despite varying in composition and scale, the photographs foreground the shared aspects of the artist’s practices: the visualisation of often private moments in parenthood. 
  • Until 30th May 2022
  • Free Space Project
  • London
Wasi Daniju: Hours of a Moment
Wasi is set to launch her debut virtual exhibition on her birthday (insha'Allah). Stay tuned for updates.
  • 7 June 2022 at 7pm
  • Online
Women Photograph: Project Grants
Deadline: 15 May 2022
These $5,000 grants will support photography projects - either new or in-progress - from visual journalists working in a documentary capacity. Women Photograph has also partnered with Leica USA to award a $10,000 grant to a photographer focused on an ongoing documentary project.
F-STOP Magazine: Open Theme
Deadline: 15 May 2022
Issue 113 will not have a theme, it is open to all fine art and documentary photography. Only one submission per person for an issue. The featured artist is chosen from the work that is submitted to the issue.
Global Peace Photo Award 2022
Deadline: 22 May 2022
Open to photographers worldwide, the top five listed photographers will be awarded the Alfred Fried Peace Medal. The Peace Image of the Year will receive €10,000. The winning picture will be on display for one year at the Austrian Parliament and will be included in the permanent art collection of the Austrian Parliament.
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2022
Deadline: 31 May 2022
Entry is now open for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2022. Open to all, it is the leading international competition, and celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary photography.
Image - Peter Zelewski
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