Among the hundreds of galleries in London, none of which have been exclusively abandoned to the growing and vibrant market of African photography. So far, that is.
Doyle Wam It is the creation of two young Londoners shunning the “elite” British art scene to open what they say is the country’s first gallery dedicated exclusively to African photographers.
“We were aware of many amazing photographers who were based in Africa but had not been shown or even noticed,” says Amy Dattenberg Doyle, 27, a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London.
She and friend Sophia Carrera Wamm, 28, a museum and heritage researcher, opened Doyle Wamm as a new permanent exhibition in a converted warehouse in Shoreditch, London.
The founders started offering pop-ups and one-off galleries of African photography – “Not safari shots by random people, but African photos of African people!” Carrera wam says.
“It seems appropriate, but to us, it really wasn’t,” she says. “We’ve been sending each other great African photographers back and forth for some time via social media, and we’ve spent a lot of time going to galleries, but we haven’t seen any of this exciting talent emerge.”
That talent starts with South African Trevor Strowman, Doyle Wham’s first major solo show. His bold and highly stylized portraits of black men and women in poses the artist says are about uplifting and celebrating Africans, And restore the narrative For Africans like him to tell the “African story” instead of being imposed on them by others.
Despite Strowman’s huge success back home, with subjects such as Barack Obama, Naomi Campbell and Beyoncé, the 29-year-old’s photography has never appeared in an exhibition in Britain.
Talking to Foreman From his home in Johannesburg, Strowman says the exhibition is a much-needed platform African artists.
“I feel like a lot has been stolen from Africa, and it’s about getting that back. That’s why I think photography is such a powerful medium – it allows us to retell the story and show what [the continent] It now appears – to develop a better understanding of what Africa is, “
Growing up in a small mining town a five-hour drive from Johannesburg, Strowman began taking pictures when he was 14, not with a traditional camera but with a cheap mobile phone, he says. (The Strowman family had little money, and his father died when he was still in high school.)
He snapped pictures of his friends, imitating the poses they’d seen in glossy magazines at a local grocery store. After leaving school, he took his SLR camera to the streets of Cape Town and took pictures of people every day. This brought him a big break, winning the competition with deer A magazine and a trip to London – his first time outside South Africa.
At the age of 19, he found himself in the front row at the Burberry show. He says it was surreal. “These numbers I saw in magazines were right in front of me. It was a world I had always looked at as fiction – and here I was, a part of it.”
“Being African is my superpower. I want to use it to take African photos that are not on Google.”
The idea of shedding new light on Africa, rather than focusing on the continent’s wildlife, poverty or philanthropy, is also at the heart of Doyle Wham, says Carrera-Wham.
Later this year, they will be showing the work of Gabonese photographer Yannis Devi Guibinga, Morgan Otagborwa of Nigeria, and Angel Etonde Issamba of Cameroon – artists who have incredible, true stories to tell through their work, she says, but are hitherto unknown abroad. their countries.
Doyle Wham’s founders also hope to challenge the arrogance and perceived low value of African photography in Britain’s galleries and auction houses.
“People (especially men) come up to us all the time and say things like, ‘But collectors don’t want that Aluminium Frames” — and “there is no value in African photography,” says Dattenberg Doyle.
“And we’re like, OK, we’ll figure that out for ourselves, thanks.”
They try to put this elitism aside, they say, and come up with their own ideas – like “Snaps nights and schnapps” every Thursday. Maybe not a purist, but anything to get people – especially young people – through the gallery door.
Trevor Strowman: Life through the lens It runs from May 13 to July 2 at Doyle Wham in London