A#22 has been curated by the British-Jamaican fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner, who established her eponymous label Wales Bonner in London in 2014.
Since her debut collection Ebonics for AW2015 until the most recent collection Volta Jazz for SS2022, Grace has imbued her designs with cultural narratives that explore the mythologies of Blackness across our planet. Her collections for Wales Bonner, and the performative nature of their presentations, capture a multitude of identities and expressions of beauty. Her aesthetic stands at the forefront of fashion as a quest to align sartorial craft with the insouciant gestures of the street.
Entitled Rhapsody In The Street, A#22 is an academic and visual survey of Grace’s research across 200 pages. Responding to the tradition of Black poetry, literature and portrait photography of the 20th century, the issue features a curation of archival portfolios and other historical ephemera, as well as newly commissioned essays, poems, paintings and portraits. As an object, the issue is treated with reverence, combining matte and gloss paper stocks with gilded pages.
New work includes visual portfolios photographed in Los Angeles, London, Miami, Paris and New York, with the leitmotif of Black portraiture central to each.
A self-portrait by Ming Smith joins Steven Traylor’s cinematic capture of the musician Damian Marley, Zoë Ghertner’s intimate depiction of model Selena Forrest, Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s studio works, and a triumphant study of Wales Bonner’s AW15 collection Ezekiel by Tyler Mitchell.
In collaboration with the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, a landmark fashion series by the Paris-based Cameroonian photographer Samuel Fosso marks Fosso’s return to fashion with a series of self-portraits wearing Wales Bonner archives.
The images are included in Fosso’s first retrospective exhibition in France and appear as a limited-edition print edition inserted within each copy of A#22.
A#22 is treated as a meandering, encyclopaedic document, including Wales Bonner research plates and archival documentation of Wales Bonner collections in dialogue with new commentary by academics and poets alike.
Conversations on the tradition of Jamaican dancehall, the Kamoinge photographic group in Harlem, NYC, and archives of unseen Ghanaian film photography sit alongside paintings and poetry by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, John Goto’s seminal Lovers’ Rock series complemented by new poems by Roger Robinson, all bookended by opening and closing blessings by Ben Okri.
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