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CIRCA:
Can you tell us about your selection of young photographers for the final 10 days of April on the Piccadilly Lights, and why you chose them?

CULTURE ART SOCIETY (CAS):
As an interdisciplinary research platform that foregrounds African archives for curatorial methodologies, it was important to reflect the perennial essence of Barnor’s archive and the intricate dynamics between past, present, and future as congruent with the selected artists’ contemporary practices.

Silvia Rosi creates portraits with strong visual references to classic West African studio portraiture. Staging images that recall her Togolese heritage and her experiences as an Afro Italian, Silvia’s work evokes the spirit of James Barnor’s ‘Ever Young Studio’ days, where he created a space for reinvention.

Thabiso Sekgala’s tender photographs of the “born free”, the generation of South Africans born after the legal abolishment of apartheid reflect deeply on themes of home and belonging. These quiet yet powerful images recall the works James Barnor took upon returning to Ghana after a decade in Europe. The brooding tensions of navigating space, time, and place are shared between Sekgala and Barnor.

Adama Jalloh is known for her black and white portraits documenting the culturally rich landscape of London. Jalloh captures intimacy in a way that yields a captivating and tender view into societies and cultures in transition. This is also true of James Barnor’s social documentary portraits taken across the UK in the 1960s that act as important narratives of the rich multiple Afro Diasporic experience in the UK.

David Nana Opoku Ansah is a young Accra-based photographer and filmmaker whose images exist at the nexus between fashion photography and studio portraiture. His work explores community, freedom, and the ongoing socio-political temporalities in Ghana. David, who cites James Barnor as an influence, represents a generation of emerging Ghanaian cultural workers whose artistic practices are greatly informed by Barnor yet breaks to forge these new visual articulations.

Finally, Lebohang Kganye uses pictorial narratives as a mode of remembrance, honouring her late South African mother’s archive. By revisiting and restaging existing photographs, the artist reimagines her family archive to unearth new memories. Kganye’s work points to the narrative and creative potential of revisiting archives. This conveys the significance of presenting Barnor’s wider trajectory.
That is one of its own, but also in continuous dialogue with contemporary artists and located within a radical history of African and Afro-diasporic photography.

WORK TITLE:

Area Boys, David Nana Opoku Ansah, 2020

This series explores the meaning freedom acquires for coming-of-age Ghanaian boys. This deals with reconnecting with his emotions over the oppression he experienced growing up, resurfacing now through the intimate connection that the camera engenders. The project talks about boyhood through texture, colour and body movements. The idea was to capture boys in Accra from a different perspective portraying all emotions such as unity, self-confidence, nostalgia, and fear.