FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF ERNEST COLE documenting blacks during apartheid-era South Africa and the work of Royal Court Photographer Chief S.O. Alonge in Benin, Nigeria, to Dean Chalkley’s images of Jamaican ‘Rude Boys’ in Britain, several recent and current exhibitions are presenting photography that documents the rich history, style and culture found throughout the diaspora:

Photography Blog Features Jamaican ‘Rude Boys’
Yesterday, “Insight,” the Washington Post’s photography blog, featured images of nattily dressed Jamaican men (above) who have transported an island-bred, colorful dandy style to Britain. Nicole Crowder, the blog’s editor, explains the origins of the rude boy persona. “In 1960s Jamaica, ‘rudeboys’ represented rebellious youth angry at unemployment and disenfranchisement (poverty, poor housing, lack of food) happening in Jamaican shantytowns. They were men sharply dressed in pork pie hats, mohair suits, freshly polished brogues, children of the ska music scene who were known for mincing words with law enforcement and disrupting through means of violence,” she writes. 1. Sam Lambert – Art Comes First © Dean Chalkley“The Jamaican subculture found a subsequent home in England in the 1970s and 1980s, and, fast-forwarding a few decades, its cool has deepened in modern day England.”

“The Jamaican subculture found a subsequent home in England in the 1970s and 1980s, and, fast-forwarding a few decades, its cool has deepened in modern day England.”
— Nicole Crowder, The Washington Post’s Insight blog

The stunning photographs by Dean Chalkley were art directed by Elliot Harris and exhibited over the summer in “Return of the Rudeboy” at Somerset House in London. Somerset House notes: “Over the course of the past year the duo has photographed over 60 sharply dressed individuals from across the UK, all of whom embody the essence of what it is to be a Rudeboy (or Rudie) in the 21st century, to document the life, style and attitude of this growing urban group.” The exhibition was on view from June 13 to Aug. 25, 2014.


John Xiniwe and Albert Jonas, London Stereoscopic Company studios, 1891 | Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Early Photos of Black Victorians on View at Autograph ABP
For the Guardian, Sean O’Hagan reports on a new Autograph ABP photography exhibition in London featuring the first studio portraits of black people in Britain (above), images that remained unseen for more than a century. “Black Chronicles II” examines images of blacks in 19th and 20th century Britain. The exhibition features a recently discovered cache of more than 200 photographs, most of which have never been exhibited or published before. The portraits include diverse subjects, from well-known figures and dignitaries to traveling performers, missionaries and unidentified black Britons. “In Black Chronicles II, the resurrected photo albums and carte de visites, plus a slideshow of black British soldiers and portraits culled from the Hulton Archive and the National Army Museum all add up to an impressionistic history of black British experience – but, more tantalisingly, tell the extraordinary individual stories that underpinned that collective cultural experience,” O’Hagan writes. All of the images were taken in British photography studios prior to 1938. The free exhibition is on view Sept. 12 to Nov. 29, 2014, at Rivington Place.

READ MORE about the Autograph ABP exhibition on Culture Type


Groundbreaking Nigerian Photography at African Art Museum
On the Smithsonian Magazine’s website, Max Kutner writes about “Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria,” the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art exhibition exploring the work of Alonge. “In the late 19th century, when the British took control of Benin City, they brought with them their photographic traditions. Portraits were rigid and British photographers depicted locals through a colonialist lens. That changed when Alonge became the first indigenous royal court photographer,” Kutner writes. “Alonge helped usher in an era of Nigerians representing themselves and acting as keepers of their own history.” The exhibition is on view from Sept. 17, 2014 to Sept. 13, 2015.

“[Chief S.O.] Alonge helped usher in an era of Nigerians representing themselves and acting as keepers of their own history.”
— Max Kutner, Smithsonian Magazine

A Look at the Hassan Hajjaj’s Moroccan Hipster Portraits
In the Huffington Post, Mallika Rao revisits the work of Moroccan-born, London based photographer and stylist Hassan Hajjaj, whose “densely textured portraits” of men donning masterful mixed prints were on view in Los Angeles earlier this year. “My Rock Stars: Volume 2” was exhibited at Gusford Gallery from Jan. 10 to Feb. 22, 2014.



South African Photographer Ernest Cole at New York University
Pioneering black photojournalist Ernest Cole (1940-1990) documented the lives and experiences of black South Africans during apartheid. The first solo show of his work, “Ernest Cole: Photographer” at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery features more than 100 compelling images from the South African’s archive, showing both challenging times and lighter moments. His powerful, penetrating work offers a window into what it was like for black South Africans to live under the segregation and violence of apartheid. A couple of years ago, Cole’s work was included in “South Africa in Apartheid and After” with photographers David Goldblatt (who discusses Cole’s work in the video above) and Billy Monk, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is on view from Sept. 3 to Dec. 6, 2014. CT


IMAGES: Top, Creative director Bevan Agyeman and Macharia Brian, Creative Director of Dxpe and To-Orist | Courtesy Somerset House, © Dean Chalkley, Creative direction by Harris Elliott; Right, Angolan designer and tailor Sam Lambert of Art Comes First | Courtesy Somerset House, © Dean Chalkley, Creative direction by Harris Elliott


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