With an opening reception this Thursday, April 9th at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity is an exhibit I encourage my fellow Chicagoans to attend if they can, and everyone else to look into. Curated by Shantrelle P. Lewis, the images are described on her site as coming from “emerging photographers and filmmakers from various regions around the African Diaspora. Their subject matter is young Black men in city-landscapes across the globe, who defy stereotypical and monolithic understandings of masculinity within the Black community. Dandy Lion also confronts the myth of the young Black man as ‘thug’ via the juxtaposition of an alternative style of dress.”
While dandy style is usually reminiscent of European figures of aristocratic and high-brow society, this more modern take borrows from African swagger instead, and the men are depicted as impeccably dressed, put together, and well mannered. Through a few articles of clothing, these images fight against hyper masculine ideas that knowing how to put together an outfit must make you less of a man. They show that there’s more to black men than the stereotypes portrayed in popular media.
Another reason to check out the exhibit is to support these artists coming from all parts of the African diaspora – from Johannesburg to Mozambique, this is neither the first nor last influential exhibit they’ve taken part in (one of the photographers featured, Rog Walker, was responsible for Solange’s iconic wedding spread).
Watch this to hear Shantrelle talk about the project in her own words:
The exhibit runs April 6 to July 12, 2015. If you can’t make it to Chicago to visit, you can find more images and other interesting stuff to look at here and here