Showing posts with label Samuel Fosso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Samuel Fosso. Show all posts

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Samuel Fosso Post

I borrow an identity.
In order to succeed I immerse myself in the necessary physical and mental state. It’s a way of freeing me from myself.
A solitary path.
I am a solitary man.

Samuel Fosso (born 1962 in Cameroon) as Angela Davis and Martin Luther King in his 'African Spirits' series

   Once, at the London retro-speakeasy flavoured club night Prohibition, my friend and occasional collaborator Winston Chesterfield put it to me that "there is a challenge levelled at dandies that many of them are simply playing ‘dressing up’ – the implication being that with a fashion history book open, anyone can match such a style." I've always thought this implication wide of the mark; as proved by some - but only some - of the patrons at that very night - a book or a photograph does not confer consummate mastery, never mind an instant one. Without a creative eye, mimicry is worth less than nothing. And that premise underlines my appreciation of this article's rather visually intelligent subject

   My interest in Samuel Fosso's portrait shoots began in the early days of Style Time/Mode Parade, although there were other little distractions like articles about pocket squares, flamboyant showmen and satirical pop songs written for television dramas to keep me from parsing this knowledge into content hitherto tonight. It is the particular charm and statement-making potency of his work that has lodged it in my mind, to say nothing of the labile self-presentations of the photographer himself, moving from African and Black American living/dead emblems such as Haïlé Sélassié and Malcolm X to post-colonial African hipster and neat, almost dandyish, naval recruit, bolstered by simple backgrounds whose mise-en-scene illustrates much about the lifestyles Fosso swathed himself in for his work

 Selections from 'Fosso Fashion'

   Like the genuine dandy, Fosso is a work of self-actualisation, weaving visual pleasure and social commentary from carefully constructed artifice. His portraiture is openly artful, his aesthetic sense alternately playful and ascetic (even he could not avoid the pristine allure of a white studio expanse). Most considerately, his theatrical feeling for posture yields photographic self portraiture that makes no bones about its narcissism and is all the more vibrant for it. I claim no expertise, but most professional self-shot photographs I see, these days, may as well have been taken in a photo booth or specifically for a MySpace account, for all the emphasis they place on setting and demeanour. Under such parameters, those portraits might become more interesting

Selections from 'Autoportraits des années 70'

   Fosso's myriad signifiers are elucidated in a Frieze magazine review that I filched from the eyepatch-sporting, Japanophile performing artist Momus, and may I say that it was a great help in producing this entry. It's quite a portrait of the artist where gravitas is concerned, but then it is about Samuel Fosso - a man whose narcissism is worth a thousand words: