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The Ghanian Art collective changing perceptions of Africa through Visual Story Telling

Oath loves the photographs we included in our inaugural volume, On Curiosity, and wanted to give you space to speak about the project from which we plucked our favorite selects for the Imaginarium project. Please share with us the genesis of Man for Chop project, and what Afrodistrict stands for.

Q. Paint us a picture of the photography scene in Ghana for us?

Photography in Ghana has gone through different evolutionary stages and has blossomed into an influential tool, spanning virtually every aspect of livelihood and culture.

There has been an emergence of young talented photographers capturing stories from their communities and changing the constructed western narrative by exhibiting pride and the richness of Ghanaian culture to the world.

Q. What is AfroDistrict?

AfroDistrict is an art collective and creative consultancy that tackles social and environmental issues through art, education and entrepreneurship. It gives voice to a new wave of enthusiasm and self- belief among young entrepreneurial minds in the creative and fashion industry in Ghana and across Africa. In AfroDistrict we aim to break stereotypes and change perceptions of Africa through visual storytelling.

Q. You collaborate with various artists, specifically in this series with the artist Serge Attukwei Clottey. How important is collaboration to you?

Collaboration is extremely important in the creative process. It is like a puzzle, various elements put together to create one unified image. Collaboration gives AfroDistrict the opportunity to fuse diverse voices and expressions to attain a mutual goal.

Q. What do you think the difference between photography from the West & Photography coming from Africa is, if any?

Photography from Africa is definitely more daring, experimental and vibrant. The digital world has helped to create a level playing field. For so long only a niche of African photographers, represented by institutions, were able to share with the world stories from Africa. Now, due to the internet and social media, young creatives in Africa have the platform to exhibit their talent. Photography is like a mirror to the world, stories from Africa are rooted in the culture and African experience, which makes it unique from the rest of the world.

Q. Can you walk us through the shoot? Maybe share some insight into the title of the series?

The project “Man For Chop” is a collaboration between AfroDistrict, Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, who uses recycled materials in his work, and the fashion duo Art Come First - punk and travelling tailors who have been redefining norms and pushing boundaries in the fashion world. The literal meaning of the title is “Man Needs to Eat to Survive”- one needs to hustle to make a living, which forces people to create masks or false identities to fit into the system. For this series, Serge Attukwei Clottey has created masks from old baseball gloves, a sport synonymous with the west, to comment on the precarious balance felt by African creatives in the desire to succeed without having to assimilate with western culture. In this project AfroDistrict considers ideas of Ghanain identity and belonging. “Man for Chop” explores how African culture and stories have been taken away from them through colonization and slavery, and whether they are now ready to reshape this narrative and regain their identities as Africans. “Masks are hiding our identities but not our true selves”.

Q. As a whole, is there a recurring theme in your projects?

Every project we do as AfroDistrict needs to have a meaning and an ingrained purpose. We are not interested in adding more “pretty content” to an already saturated world of imagery. We are telling the stories that matter to create an impact, to challenge the imagination and to change so many expired perceptions, especially when it comes to perceptions of Africa.

Q. What inspires you to create new photographic projects?

The story that yet needs to be told.