Black Dandyism photo exhibition

A Revolutionary in Etiquette - Connosieurs of Swag

Dandy Lion: An Articulation of a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity, a photography exhibition of works created by 10 artists exploring the phenomenon of Black Dandyism throughout the African Diaspora is now open until Aug. 28, at MoCADA, 80 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in announcing the opening said the artists include Hanif Abdur-Rahim, Kwesi Abensetts, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Russell K. Frederick, Cassi Amanda Gibson, Akintola Hanif, Jamala Johns, Dexter R. Jones, Amanda Adams-Louis, Brandi Pettijohn. The curator is Shantrelle P. Lewis.

A refreshing exhibit, “Dandy Lion: An Articulation of a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Aesthetic” takes a glance at urban Black Dandies who like their continental African counterparts, Le Sapeur of Brazzaville, Congo, embody style, sophistication and a commitment to culture via dramatized masculinity.

This exhibition is an examination and approbation of the contemporary dandy in Diasporan settings. Dandy Lion is an homage to the fashionable urban gentleman – an African Diasporan man of style, an urban connoisseur of sophistication and a contemporary man of extraordinary swagger.

Curator Shantrelle P. Lewis remarks, “Juxtaposed against an urban backdrop where the clothing of choice for many Black men consists of a pair of sagging pants, exposed boxers and white tees – the ‘hip-hop’ generation has produced another phenomenon of style – the New Age dandy.

This exhibition is an attempt on my part to challenge notions of popularized urban Black masculinity and the articulation of Black male identity. It references how the adornment and stylization of the Black male body is self-directed move on the part of African Diasporan men. A performance and embodiment of sophistication, Dandy Lions are themselves gentlemen of exceptional manners who consciously postulate what it means to be Black, masculine and full of ‘swag,’ not simply as performance but an embodiment of a lifestyle.”

Given the exhibit’s fashionable subject matter, MoCADA will host accompanying programming that is intended to cultivate and celebrate the Dandy Lifestyle. An artist talk tooktake place on July 27, 2011, led by Shantrelle P. Lewis, which featured exhibiting artists. These artists discussed how their photography plays a role in shaping the images of Black men in media and popular culture.

In addition to the artist talk, MoCADA will also host a vintage trunk sale for quaintrelles, the female counterpart of the Dandy, by DC-based vintage clothier, Planet Maud & Co., which will also include a presentation on style by NYC stylist Nikki Hall.

Other programs will include a screening on Aug. 24 at 6:00 p.m. of “The Importance of Being Elegant,” directed-produced by Cosima Spender and George Amponsah.

The exhibition will travel to Amsterdam in September to Open Ateliers Zuidoost, where Ms. Lewis will be completing a curatorial residency.

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